Gov. Doug Ducey will allow local municipal governments to set their own mask-wearing policy and enforce those standards.
“I've focused on a statewide approach where possible,” Ducey said during his June 17 press conference. “Today, we're seeing facts on the ground and differing circumstances around the state support a localized approach.”
Ducey said his change in guidelines comes after mayors from across the state asked for the ability to set their own local guidelines after seeing a spike in cases of COVID-19.
Tucson officials, including Mayor Regina Romero and Councilmember Steve Kozachik, had been asking Ducey to allow them to set local standards in accordance with CDC guidelines. Earlier today, Romero said she had asked City Attorney Michael Rankin to develop a legal strategy to require masks.
“Public health experts agree - the time to #MaskUpTucson is NOW” Romero tweeted.
Ducey said turning over control to local governments, a change from last week’s press conference when he said times of pandemics warrant state control, will help local leaders deal with local problems.
In Santa Cruz County, roughly 31 percent of tests are positive, while the tally stands at 3 percent in Yavapai County. Yuma County is at 20 percent, Maricopa at 16 and Coconino at 6 percent. Pima County’s current positive percentage rate is roughly 16 percent.
“Every Arizonan should wear a facemask,” Ducey said. “This is an issue of personal responsibility and we’re asking Arizonans to make responsible decisions to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”
According to Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ, one of the “key things” Arizonans need to think about is the risk factor of any activity they have planned. Interacting with a group of people who aren’t socially distancing or wearing a mask is a risk, she said, especially considering reports of asymptomatic spread of the disease.
Nearly 41,000 Arizonans have contracted COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning, according to the Arizona Department of Health’s daily report. That includes 1,827 new cases in one day. Pima County had 4,385 of the state's 40,924 confirmed cases, which is nearly double the amount of cases statewide on June 1.
A total of 1,239 people have died after contracting the virus, including 229 in Pima County.
Maricopa County has more than half the state's cases, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hitting 22,272.
“This is highly contagious, there is widespread transmission,” said Ducey, who added that trends are moving in the wrong direction.