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Biden calls out Arizona’s Ducey for not having statewide mask mandate

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PHOENIX — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called out Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday for not having a statewide mask mandate as coronavirus cases across the state and U.S. surge again.

Biden blamed Ducey’s resistance for implementing a statewide mandate for Arizona’s rise in COVID-19 cases in June and warned of the dangers of not putting one in place.

The criticism comes as Arizona has reported four consecutive days of more than 900 cases. Some cities are also starting to rescind their mask orders.

“Just look at what happened in Arizona. Republican governor initially tried to bar local governments from implementing mask mandates in their communities,” Biden said during a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware.

“In June, Arizona got hit with a surge of cases. Hospitals were flooded. The state health system was overwhelmed.”

Ducey resisted implementing a statewide mask mandate when cases started spiking after his stay-at-home order expired.

He turned over authority on the issue to local governments on June 17 after state Democratic leaders such as U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and U.S. Reps. Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton called for mask requirements.

On the day the state’s stay-at-home order ended, May 15, the seven-day average for the Arizona Department of Health Services’ newly reported cases was 377.57.

When Ducey started letting local jurisdictions enact mask mandates, that figure was 1,581.71.

Health officials said it would take a couple of weeks for the impact of mask requirements to show up in the data. The seven-day average for reported cases peaked July 6 at 3,844, and then started falling almost as quickly as it had risen.

“Masks save lives. Period,” Biden said.

Ducey rebuked Biden’s criticism in a long Twitter thread, claiming the state has consistently put public health first.

The Republican governor, who spoke at two Arizona rallies for President Donald Trump earlier in the week, said he was swift in allowing local governments to implement mask mandates.

“We have promoted mask use and common sense. Masks work,” Ducey tweeted. “Today we see masks worn statewide in nearly every setting as part of reopening guidelines.

“Our focus has been on compliance and public health education.”

The Kingman City Council on Tuesday voted to lift its mask requirement, the latest Arizona city to do so.

Mohave County’s three largest cities have rescinded their mandates on wearing face masks in public.

“Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement,” Biden said.

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