Arizona, one of the earliest states to reopen, gains national attention for COVID-19 cases

Arizona, one of the earliest states to reopen, is gaining national attention as the state has some of the highest new COVID-19 cases reported every day, sparking a new push for Arizonans to wear masks in public.

Maricopa County is now requiring all employees to wear masks at work and the state is working on a public service campaign, urging all of us to wear masks as part of our new normal.

The number of new cases in the state jumped Wednesday by more than 1,500, marking an all time high.

Total cases are now an inch away from 30,000 and deaths are nearing 1,100.

But, health officials say don’t call it a "second wave," it's more like the first wave crashing over the county.

“We’ve received 27% of all the cases during the pandemic just in the last week," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with the Maricopa County Public Health Department.

The states ICU bed space is nearing its limit and ventilator use quadrupled since Mid-may, at Banner Health.

RELATED: Hospital officials warn of COVID-19 increase in Arizona

Hospitals are now enacting emergency plans to increase beds by 25% and may be forced to cut elective surgeries again.

“Some of elective surgeries include things like a mastectomy for breast cancer. They can even include a heart bypass that can be put off for more than 24 hours," Sunenshine said.

Now masks are being encouraged even more than before.

RELATED: Arizonans receive mixed messaging about wearing masks when Ducey rarely publicly wears one

“Why we are pushing mask so hard is because we know people don’t wanna go back to the stay-at-home order. We’ve heard that loud and clear," said Marcy Flanagan with the Maricopa County Public Health Department.

County health officials said that evidence suggests widespread mask wearing could slow the virus by up to 60%, but again, at this point, masks are not required in public.