Ducey says no COVID-19 changes coming after updated CDC guidance

Jul 27, 2021, 4:32 PM | Updated: 5:54 pm
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

PHOENIX — After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 guidance Tuesday because of a surge of infections due to the delta variant, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said the state won’t make any changes to its policies.

The CDC reversed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. classified as having substantial or high transmission.

That includes a recommendation for indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

“Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated,” Ducey said in a statement. “We’ve passed all of this into law and it will not change.”

Ducey said Arizona’s best protection against COVID-19 remains the vaccine. Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday that health officials in the state would be updating their guidelines to match those just released by the CDC.

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.

About 73% of the state’s COVID-19 cases in July are due to the delta variant, Christ said.

“Our messaging is to encourage Arizonans to get vaccinated,” Christ said. “We now have a tool that wasn’t available to us last winter or last summer. It is highly effective.”

Ducey added he believes the CDC’s new guidance will diminish confidence in the vaccine.

With just over 46% of the state’s population fully vaccinated, Arizona lags behind the national rate of about 50%.

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.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are at levels not seen in more than four months, although there hasn’t yet been an associated surge in deaths.

Tune to 92.3 FM on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. to listen to Gov. Ducey’s exclusive interview with The Mike Broomhead Show.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ducey says no COVID-19 changes coming after updated CDC guidance