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Arizona governor requires masks in public

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is requiring citizens to cover their faces while in public.

“Every Arizonan should wear a face mask,” Ducey said Wednesday during his press conference. “This is an issue of personal responsibility, and we’re asking Arizonans to make responsible decisions to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”

The Republican governor has faced major resistance for not mandating masks sooner to help slow the spread of the virus.

This week, hundreds of medical professionals sent a letter to Ducey urging him to require masks.

“Please issue a state-wide mandate requiring universal masking in public for those 2 years old and above. There is sufficient, clear, scientific evidence that wearing masks is one way to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and thus would reduce both the wave of severely affected patients requiring ICU and ventilator resources as well as unnecessary deaths,” the letter reads.

Dr. Natasha Bhuyan of Phoenix says immediate action needs to be taken or hospital ICUs will soon reach capacity. She said she respects the governor’s attempts to promote wearing masks on his social media but said that won’t cut it.

“We’ve been educating the public this entire time, and clearly it hasn’t been effective,” Bhuyan said. “It’s a public health tenet: When you make things mandatory, you see results.”

Ducey is leaving the enforcement of mask wearing up to local officials. He won praise from the mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego.

“Today @dougducey gave the power back to cities to implement our own health and safety measures to fight rising #COVID cases. This is the needed step to allow cities to protect residents,” Gallego tweeted. “On our next agenda, Phoenix City Council will vote to mandate face masks for residents going to essential businesses and in public spaces. I fully support this measure. We will only overcome this virus by working together. #MaskUpAZ.”

Ducey has encouraged people to use masks but has not worn one himself during any of his news conferences until Wednesday.

Arizona currently has the highest seven-day average positive test rate in the U.S. at 17.7 percent. The state’s leading hospital system says more than 1,100 people visited emergency rooms Tuesday with positive or suspected cases.

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