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Pima county’s response to the CDC’s updated mask guidelines

Pima County Health Department and a board supervisor reacts
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Posted at 12:20 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 15:20:10-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The CDC reversed its earlier stance on face coverings. It is now recommending those who are vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks indoors in certain counties and cities.

“Increased number of cases, increased hospitalization, increase Delta, and finally the increased transmissibility of Delta in people that are vaccinated and have Delta as well as vaccinated people,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County health director. “Now, I need to caveat that; that while our COVID rates are up, they are nowhere near where they were.”

The CDC is also urging everyone in K-12 to wear masks at school. Cullen says, the numbers in Pima County are increasing within that group.

“Five to ten percent of the cases we are seeing right now will be due to school, as opposed to a maximum of four percent last year. Since July 19, of the last seven days, we have seen 56 school cases reported. We anticipate getting another ten today,” said Cullen.

She says eight outbreaks have been confirmed in the county in the last eight days within K-12. Last summer, she says there were no outbreaks; because of this, her recommendation echos the CDC.

“In addition, we are seeing an increase in pediatric CVOID-19 associated ER visits, admissions, including ICU admissions,” said Cullen.

But Governor Doug Ducey is condemning the recommendation, saying, "Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change."

Pima County supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz spoke with KGUN9 about his reaction to the updated CDC guidelines. He says, he is in support of the CDC recommending vaccinated people wear masks indoors. In addition, he is challenging Governor Ducey’s mandates.

“I am happy to fight the governor in court over that. We do have board authority through the health department to do what is necessary to mitigate a contagion like COVID. And the governor doesn’t seem to think the statute means anything; that statute is decades and decades old. It is also important to point out, that his mask mandate that got through the budget process - the restrictions on requirement vaccinations - all of those things have a 90 day delayed enactment, which means they won’t be law until September,” said Heinz.

He says an extra Pima County board of supervisors meeting has been added for Aug. 10 to discuss these topics further.