Maricopa County encourages wearing masks in public as virus cases rise

Jun 10, 2020, 4:00 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)...

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County public health officials are encouraging individuals to wear face masks in public as coronavirus cases in metro Phoenix rise at record rates.

The county has seen about 27% of its cases — or about 4,500 — reported in the past seven days.

County health officials have warned that increased case and hospitalization rates aren’t necessarily due to an increase in testing as the state reopens in the midst of the pandemic.

“Why we are pushing masks so hard is that we know individuals don’t want to go back to a stay-at-home order,” Marcy Flanagan, the county’s public health executive director, said Wednesday in a press conference. “We’ve heard that loud and clear.”

Flanagan and Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the county’s medical director for public health, said wearing cloth face masks are important because they help mitigate the spread of the virus, which had infected 29,852 in Arizona as of Wednesday morning.

Currently, there is no guidance from the state of Arizona about wearing masks.

Sunenshine said the county is now requiring all employees to wear masks who can’t maintain six feet of distance.

Flanagan said the state was working on a mask campaign that was scheduled to be rolled out next week.

“There is a mounting body of scientific evidence that shows face masks can actually prevent COVID-19 from spreading,” Sunenshine said.

Gov. Doug Ducey has been steadfast that he and public health officials have taken the correct approach in handling the pandemic.

Ducey said Thursday during a press conference he wasn’t alarmed by apparently negative COVID-19 trends, which span more than just Maricopa County.

In a letter sent to hospitals on Saturday, Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s public health director, recommended hospitals “fully activate” their emergency plans as capacity continues to swell.

The state hasn’t been under a stay-at-home order since May 16.

“For the public, I understand this is not easy to see. It can be scary, it can be worrisome,” Flanagan said. “Are we doing enough, is public health doing enough, is the state doing enough?

“I can assure you that conversations happen almost daily between the state and the county.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Crews work on the Alameda Drive bridge over Interstate 10 as part of the Broadway Curve Improvement...

Kevin Stone

Driving from Phoenix to the East Valley this weekend? Watch out for this major detour

An Interstate 10 closure will impede traffic from Phoenix into the East Valley this weekend. Here's how you get around it.

59 minutes ago

Overnight shooting in Glendale leaves teenager dead, police say...

Overnight shooting in Glendale leaves 1 teenager dead, police say

The Glendale Police Department said a 16-year-old victim died after an overnight shooting in Glendale on Wednesday.

2 hours ago

Panoramic file photo of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administrati...

Ground stop issued for some flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Authorities issued a temporary ground stop for some flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Friday morning because of foggy conditions.

3 hours ago

Arizona Task Force 1...

Serena O'Sullivan

Phoenix Fire task force to help New Mexico with search, rescue and recovery after deadly wildfires

Arizona Task Force 1 deployed on Friday morning to join the battle against deadly wildfires in New Mexico.

4 hours ago

Buckeye collision on Thursday leaves 1 dead, police say...

Serena O'Sullivan

1 dead after car crashes into tree in Buckeye, police say

A Buckeye collision on Thursday night involving a vehicle with three people crashing into a tree left one dead, according to police.

5 hours ago

Split panel with developers shoving dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony in Paradise Valley on Jun...

Kevin Stone

Developers ready for next step at Silver Sky, a new luxury community in Paradise Valley

Developers held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday to mark a big step at Silver Sky, a new luxury community in Paradise Valley.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

Maricopa County encourages wearing masks in public as virus cases rise