TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is responding to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuesday on masks.
The CDC announced Thursday it would reverse earlier guidance and advise all individuals to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, in areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are surging. The agency is also recommending everyone in K-12 schools this fall wear masks, whether or not they've been vaccinated.
Ducey released a statement Tuesday afternoon on the new guidance, saying the move would "diminish confidence in the vaccine and create more challenges for public health officials."
The governor also pointed out Arizona's newly enacted laws banning mask mandates and vaccine mandates at schools and other institutions.
"Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated," Ducey's statement said. "We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change."
Ducey's comments appear to contradict his own director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS), Dr. Cara Christ. In a news conference Tuesday, she said the CDC's new guidance "does make sense, when you've got high community transmission, or substantial community transmission."
Christ said the AZDHS will also recommend masks in schools, per the new CDC guidance.
"We're going to follow that recommendation, that all individuals in schools should consider wearing a mask when they are indoors," she said. "It especially makes sense in our elementary schools where, you know, those that are 12 and under are not eligible to get vaccinated yet. They don't have an approved vaccine, so we want to do everything that we can to keep those kiddos safe."
Following new @CDCgov mask guidelines, @AZDHS will also update its recommendations, including that EVERYONE in K-12 schools should wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. @abc15 pic.twitter.com/OqLTL8T3nT— Claudia Rupcich (@ClaudiaRupcich) July 27, 2021
Before Ducey's statement Tuesday, Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman released a statement calling on the governor to allow schools to create and enforce mask mandates if they choose.
"I encourage Teacher, administrators and families to listen to the CDC and take individual action to keep themselves and each other safe by wearing a mask during in-person school," she said in the statement.
Despite Ducey's condemnation of the new mask guidance from the CDC, his statement still strongly Arizonans who haven't been vaccinated to get their shot.
"Public health officials in Arizona and across the country have made it clear that the best protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine," the statement said.