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White House coronavirus testing czar wants most Arizonans to wear mask

Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, removes his mask to speak about the coronavirus during a press briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 11, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

PHOENIX – At least 90 percent of the Valley population should be wearing a face mask when they go out during this outbreak, a White House coronavirus task force member said Monday.

“The most important thing that your city and every other city can do … is absolutely to wear a mask in a hot spot like Phoenix,” Adm. Brett Giroir told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

“You’ve got to have, like, 90% of people wearing a mask out in public,” said Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services and coordinator of the country’s coronavirus testing programs.

Arizona has experienced a surge in positive tests for COVID-19 in the past few weeks, drawing national interest.

Giroir said the 90% figure was based on new models that governors would hear about in a meeting later in the day.

“Bars are not a good thing,” Giroir said. “Love bars in normal time, but bars are really a bad site for transmission, as well as indoor restaurants. Indoor restaurants should be at about 50% capacity,” he said.

“These are the things to get it under control. Some early data are showing that Arizona is starting to get this under control already. Keep the pedal to the metal, you guys are starting to turn this around.”

Gov. Doug Ducey gave local governments the authority to implement mask requirements June 17, and most of the regulations were in effect within a few days.

In another move to slow the spread of the virus, Ducey ordered bars, nightclubs and gyms to close June 29, and followed that up Thursday by limiting restaurants to less than 50% occupancy.

Giroir said with mask wearing combined plus good hand hygiene and avoiding mass gatherings, “you can achieve almost the same thing you can achieve as a total close-down.

“This is a small price to pay to avoid a shutdown that would really hurt, not just the economy but people’s jobs, their health and mental health.”

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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