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Gov. Ducey reemphasizes importance of masks amid COVID-19 surge, does not implement statewide mandate

TUCSON (KVOA) - Gov. Doug Ducey reemphasized the importance of wearing masks and face coverings, and practicing COVID-19 safety protocols on Wednesday amid demand from city leaders for a statewide mask mandate.

Back on April 29, Ducey announced that he has decided to extend his Stay-At-Home Order to May 15. Through this extension, Ducey allowed non-essential retailers, including barbers and salons, to reopen May 10 and allowed restaurants to offer dine-in services with social distancing protocols in place on May 13.

After the stay-at-home order expired, Ducey implemented a new program that outlined when gyms, bars and other businesses can resume operations and when schools can return in-person classes.

On June 17, the governor announced that he will allow local government to craft their own policies for face make requirements during a COVID-19 briefing. This led to counties and cities to implement mask mandates, including Tucson and Pima County.

During Wednesday's press conference, the governor shared the importance of social distancing and wearing masks in the state.

Despite calls from City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego for a statewide mask mandate, Ducey did not announce a corresponding executive order on Wednesday.

However, Ducey shared that the state will provide an additional $25 million to support hospital staff in medical facilities across Arizona.

The governor also said that ADHS has set-up resources to help inform people on how to celebrate the holidays safely amid the surge of positive cases. To view those tips, visit azdhs.gov.

Also during the press conference, Ducey shared that the Arizona Department of Health Services will increase public service announcements to help residents celebrate the holidays safely as snowbirds and other travelers prepare to visit the Grand Canyon State.

The governor said he plans to set up COVID-19 testing sites at Arizona airports, including Tucson International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

In the press conference, Ducey also reemphasized the importance of using masks and social distancing in school. The governor suggested that by reinforcing and reemphasizing these protocols, Arizona can continue to keep schools open and continue to offer in-person instruction amid the current surge of cases.

He said ADHS will also enact a statewide emergency measure that will mandate the use of masks and other COVID-19-related safety policies at schools and school buses across the state.

The governor also implemented an executive order to help identify vulnerable populations for COVID-19 vaccine testing.

Through the executive order, enhanced tracking of vaccinations will also be set up to help people who wish to receive the vaccine get the proper follow-up and information when it becomes available.

This order was made on the heels of the Associated Press' report that the latest test results are showing that Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective.

On Wednesday, Arizona reported 3,206 new positive COVID-19 cases and 53 more deaths.

This brought the overall total cases in Arizona to 283,102 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The death toll is 6,365.

Prior to Wednesday's briefing, Ducey did not hold a press conference for 18 days. The governor spoke about the state's efforts to combat the COVID-19 virus in his last conference, which was held on Oct. 29.

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Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.

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