Pima County reinstates indoor mask mandate as Arizona omicron cases rise

Pima County reinstated its indoor COVID-19 mask mandate after a Board of Supervisors vote on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

"The Pima County Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted 3-2 to require everyone in the County to wear a face covering indoors when six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained," a county press release read.

The decision was mulled over when the delta variant was surging in Arizona, but with omicron now being the dominant strain, the supervisors voted to require indoor mask-wearing once again.

"The public should view today’s vote as a rally cry for everyone in our community to take a simple and benign action that will go a long way to protect themselves and their community from the spread of a deadly disease," said District 2 Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz. "Masks work if everyone wears them. So please wear one and help our community slow and stop the spread of COVID-19."

COVID-19 cases in Pima County on the rise

Acting County Administrator Jan Lesher reported that Pima County had 15,851 cases of COVID-19 this November compared to 13,933 cases in November 2020.

"Last week the case rate in the County was 310 cases per 100,000 population, well in excess of a low point of 23 per 100,000 persons at the end of May. Diagnostic COVID-19 testing volume remains very high with 157,012 tests performed in November, and 74,981 tests in the first two weeks of December. The positivity rate continues to be elevated at 11 percent," the press release read.

Although state law and legal issues make it hard to enforce a mandate, Lesher says it was worth reinstating because it would act as a "call to arms" during the high transmission of omicron.

"It is incumbent upon everyone in the community to rally together and do what’s necessary to protect themselves and others," the press release read.

The mask mandate is in effect as of Dec. 21.

Read more about the county's decision here.

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