Ducey pushes COVID-19 vaccine as cases, hospitalizations rise in Arizona
PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey reiterated Thursday that the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19 as cases and hospitalizations rise again in Arizona, where inoculation rates continue to lag behind national averages.
“This has very much been a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.
Ducey’s messaging has been consistent in promoting the vaccine as the way to stop the pandemic, even as previously used mitigation strategies have come back into play recently due to the rise of the delta variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday reversed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors, including students returning to class, in parts of the U.S. classified as having substantial or high transmission.
Despite the new guidance, Ducey remained firm that the state won’t change policies that prohibit schools from mandating face masks or vaccines as a condition of in-person schooling.
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.
As of Thursday, the Arizona Department of Health Services dashboard showed that 3,733,628 people (51.9% of the state’s population, based on 7,189,020 residents) have received at least one dose of vaccine in Arizona and 3,336,595 people are fully vaccinated (46.4% of the population).
Arizona trails the nationwide rates of 57.1% with at least one dose and 49.3% fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
“We’ve got more vaccine than people who want it,” Ducey said. “We want to encourage people to get it.”
Arizona health officials on Thursday also reported 1,759 new COVID-19 cases, the second-most in a day in more than four months.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s hospitals saw the number COVID-19 inpatients surpass 1,000 for the first time since early March.
Ducey said those still unsure on getting the vaccine should talk to a trusted medical professional.
“Don’t talk to social media. Don’t go on Facebook. Don’t listen to one of our distant uncles,” Ducey said. “Talk with a trusted doctor you would if you or your child was sick.”