Most of Arizona included among areas CDC recommends masks indoors
PHOENIX – Most of Arizona has a COVID-19 transmission level high enough to be included in the new federal guidance on face masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks in public indoor settings in parts of the U.S. classified as having substantial or high transmission.
Thirteen of Arizona’s 15 counties, including Maricopa, home to nearly two-thirds of the state’s residents, fall into the substantial or high categories on the CDC’s map.
Only Yuma and Cochise counties, which are in the moderate range, are below the threshold.
Arizona Department of Health Services records show COVID-19 hospitalizations at levels not seen in more than four months, although there hasn’t yet been an associated surge in deaths.
Since March, 98% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been people who aren’t fully vaccinated, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
With just over 46% of the state’s population fully vaccinated, Arizona lags behind the national rate of about 50%.
Citing new information about the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.