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Arizona health department encourages residents to wear masks in public

(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ on Thursday encouraged residents to wear face masks in public as coronavirus cases continue to surge throughout the state.

“If you cannot physically distance, we want you to wear a cloth face covering,” Christ said during a press conference.

“Make sure that you physically distance when you are in public.”

Christ was not wearing a face mask as she delivered her remarks.

There had been no guidance from the state of Arizona about wearing masks prior to Thursday’s press conference.

She also said that those at risk or 65 and older should stay home as much as possible.

“If you are over the age of 65 or you have an underlying medical condition that puts you at risk, we want them to limit their time away from home,” Christ said.

Christ also encouraged Arizonans to engage in effective hygiene and sanitation practices such as 20-second hand washing, utilizing hand sanitizer and remaining home when sick.

Gov. Doug Ducey also said during the press conference that current hospital bed capacity throughout the state is sufficient to treat residents and manage a surge of incoming patients.

“We would like to assure the public that we have the available bed capacity and surge lines are in place to continue to serve the people of Arizona,” Ducey said. “We are well prepared to manage an increased inpatient volume.”

Ducey was not wearing a mask during the press conference.

On Wednesday, Maricopa County public health officials encouraged individuals to wear face masks in public as metro Phoenix continued to experience a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“There is a mounting body of scientific evidence that shows face masks can actually prevent COVID-19 from spreading,” Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the county’s medical director for public health, said while wearing a face mask during a press conference.

AZDHS reported 1,412 new coronavirus cases and 32 additional deaths Thursday morning, increasing state totals to 31,264 cases and 1,127 deaths.

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