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Is Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey Sending The Wrong Message By Not Wearing A Mask?

By Ben Giles
Published: Monday, June 8, 2020 - 8:24am
Updated: Monday, June 8, 2020 - 9:59am

Gov. Doug Ducey
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Gov. Doug Ducey at a press conference on June 4, 2020.

At press conferences and public events, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey doesn’t wear a mask to cover his nose and mouth — a decision that runs counter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines during the pandemic.

At a recent press conference, Dr. Marjorie Bessel of Banner Health explained in meticulous detail how she handles her face mask, which she had removed only to speak into a microphone once she was a safe 6 feet away from reporters.

“For those of you who were here when I came into the room, you noticed that I had a mask on. I took that mask off very carefully by the loops, and I placed it over here on a paper towel. As soon as I was done with that, I washed my hands. When I get ready to leave the press conference, you're going to see me reverse that,” she said.

Bessel, the chief clinical officer at Banner Health, acknowledged some Arizonans are growing tired of pandemic and safety measures that help ensure the coronavirus can’t spread so easily.

But she urged Arizonans to be on their best, “exquisite” behavior.

“I'm a physician. So I've been wearing masks for a lot of my career. And I know that it's not easy to wear a mask,” she said. “I know it can be very fatiguing to wear a mask, but I need you to wear a mask. Everybody out there needs to wear a mask so we can protect others and we need to do it appropriately.”

As Bessel demonstrated proper mask etiquette, Gov. Doug Ducey was tweeting photos of his June 5 visit to the state’s Health Emergency Operations Center.

He’s seen bumping elbows with a security guard and standing around crowded desks alongside Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Neither leader is wearing a mask. Nor or many of the staffers seen meeting with the governor.

It was the same the day before, when Ducey tweeted photos of an ice cream social he hosted for his staff.

Still no mask.

That’s routine for Ducey, who’s also routinely dodged questions about his decision not to wear a mask.

Bessel was asked if the governor is sending the wrong message to Arizonans.

“It is important for us as leaders to lead by example, which is what I am doing here with you and for you and for the citizens of Arizona today,” she said. “I'm also attempting to educate you about how you wear a mask appropriately and how you wash your hands.

“The more of us that do that, the better that message will cascade down to the communities that we serve,” she added.

Bessel said that wearing a mask isn’t about protecting yourself.

“If you are young and you're healthy or you're an asymptomatic carrier, when you're out and about within 6 feet of others, you could be infecting them. They might go home to their 82-year-old grandmother, or somebody else in their family that's immunocompromised or has cancer and you are impacting the disease for them,” Bessel said. “So I am imploring all of you to wear your mask. Protect others.”

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Dr. Marjorie Bessel
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Marjorie Bessel
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