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Pima County could bring back its indoor mask mandate to fight omicron

By Steve Goldstein, Lauren Gilger
Associated Press
Published: Monday, December 20, 2021 - 12:02pm
Updated: Tuesday, December 21, 2021 - 7:23am
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Pima County Health Department
Theresa Cullen

COVID-19 cases in Arizona have been on a downward trend over the past week. State health officials added 2,176 new cases and, as usual for a Monday, no additional deaths Dec. 20.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations have also been trending down recently, but intensive care unit bed usage overall remains at 95%.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 56.5% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated, more than 5% lower than the national average.

But as the omicron variant spreads across the globe, public health experts predict another surge here in Arizona after the holidays.

A member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors wants to help curb the spread of the coronavirus by imposing a countywide mandate for people to wear mask while inside indoor public places and cannot easily social distance.

A resolution proposed by Supervisor Matt Heinz has been added to Tuesday's meeting agenda.

Heinz said that the pandemic is at “a critical moment" and that the lack of a masking mandate would hurt businesses because people may stop patronizing local businesses.

The omicron variant “has already been identified in Pima County, and people are looking for assurances that it remains safe to go about their lives," Heinz wrote Thursday in a memo.

The resolution will be discussed at the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting Dec. 21. If it’s approved, it would require masks to be worn while inside indoor public spaces where there’s little room for social distancing.

To learn about what’s happening in Pima County, The Show spoke with Dr. Theresa Cullen, director of the Pima County Health Department.

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