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Banner Health opposes lifting of mask mandates in Arizona

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s largest health care provider is pushing back against the idea of mask mandates being lifted in the state.

Banner Health said it strongly opposes rolling back mask mandates because of evidence showing they are helping slow the spread of coronavirus.

Banner also called on city leaders to retain mandates for as long as necessary.

“Our health care heroes on the front lines and all those supporting their efforts have been lifted up during the toughest times thanks to our communities doing the right thing to slow the spread,” Peter Fine, president and CEO of Banner Health, said in a press release.

“For their sake, and everyone’s sake, we must stay the course on masking and distancing for the foreseeable future.”

Scottsdale and Gilbert have already rescinded mask mandates, but face coverings in those cities and across metro Phoenix are still required under Maricopa County’s order.

If the county’s order was rescinded, cities and towns would have the option to not require masks in public areas.

Gov. Doug Ducey gave local authorities the power to issue face covering requirements in late June.

“I felt it was time to remove the temporary face mask order…not denouncing face masks…but with a plea to people to attend to their personal safety and hygiene as well as a consideration of the civic responsibility to others,” Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Arizona’s COVID-19 numbers have been steadily improving since mitigation measures have been in effect.

The state’s weekly positive rate for COVID-19 diagnostic tests has been 4% for the past three weeks and sits at 5% so far this week with 7,624 tests processed.

The positive rate had been as high as 20% at the end of June.

Overall, inpatient beds were 80% full on Tuesday, 1 point higher than the previous day. The inpatient occupancy rate peaked at 88% on July 9-10.

Banner said it is also seeing less hospitalizations due to coronavirus.

“Banner’s medical experts understand that the community is experiencing ‘COVID fatigue,’ but COVID-19 is still strong and in our midst,” Banner said in the release.

The state has reported 215,284 COVID-19 infections and 5,525 deaths since the pandemic started, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Debra Dale contributed to this report.

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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