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ASU makes face coverings mandatory, effective immediately

(Facebook Photo/Arizona State University)

PHOENIX – With reported coronavirus cases on the rise in the state, face coverings are now mandatory at Arizona State University, the school’s president announced Friday.

The policy follows health officials’ recommendations and applies to all employees, students and visitors in campus buildings or outdoor spaces where physical distancing isn’t possible, President Michael Crow said in a statement.

Crow said the requirement already was in the school’s plan for the fall semester but was being put into effect immediately.

“Given the current rise in COVID-19 cases we’re seeing in Arizona and a lax attitude toward face coverings and other social distancing measures since Gov. [Doug] Ducey’s Stay At Home Executive Order was lifted, we feel it is important to accelerate our policy,” he said.

Friday’s move comes while Arizona is under scrutiny for a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

State and Maricopa County health officials have made a point in recent days to emphasize the use of face masks in public when physical distancing isn’t possible.

Ducey said Thursday people should wear face coverings in those cases but he was not going to issue an order requiring it.

Proponents of mask wearing cite evidence that the practice helps protect the wearer and reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Crow’s statement linked to a May 1 report about an ASU study that found “if most of the population consistently wears masks in public, then even homemade face coverings can meaningfully reduce community transmissions of COVID-19 and decrease peak hospitalizations and deaths.”

On Friday, the state health department made its highest single-day report of new cases, 1,654, while the death count increased by 17.

That pushed the state’s documented totals to 32,918 cases and 1,144 deaths.

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