Health expert: Number of Arizona COVID-19 cases may not be going down, but masks are working

Arizona health officials are tracking to see how mask mandates that went into effect in June by local governments are impacting state coronavirus cases.

Health officials say that although the state's positive cases continue to break records, it could have been a lot worse if we didn’t start wearing the masks. Right now, their biggest concern is trying to get people to wear them.

It’s been almost two weeks since mask mandates went into place and the results are slowing coming in just ahead of the holiday weekend.

"I think the interventions from the governor came just in the knick of time to prevent the worst of it," says Will Humble, former Director of Arizona's Department of Health Services.

He adds, "What the masks will do is to slow down the spread of the virus from what it would have been without masks. It doesn’t mean we are going to see a decrease in cases or a decrease in the percent of positives. What it means is it will be better than it would have been if we didn’t do it."

Other healthcare experts say more needs to be done.

"Our rates are at 38%. One in 3 people is probably wearing (a mask). What really concerns me is whether people are masking up correctly and taking off the mask in a safe way," explained Purnima Madhivanan.

Governor Doug Ducey let local governments decide whether or not to require masks in public spaces, but health officials say mask requirements need to be enforced statewide as our cases continue to rise.

"There is a lot of resistance to people wearing masks. It has become more of a partisan issue than a health issue," Madhivanan said.

With the 4th of July weekend upon us, epidemiologists are worried for another spike, similar to what happened after Memorial Day weekend.

"At the rate in which we are going, I don’t see a plateau yet. We are still on an upward trend. We haven’t ever crossed our first wave yet," Madhivanan said.

Epidemiologists say wearing masks can really help flatten the curve.