PHOENIX - Arizona public schools without mask requirements were several times more likely to experience COVID-19 outbreaks than schools with mandates in place when the current school year began, researchers said Friday in an article published by a federal health agency.
The article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the impact of mask requirements at K-12 district schools in Maricopa and Pima counties, the state’s two most populous counties.
"The odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak were 3.5 times higher in schools with no mask requirement than in those with a mask requirement implemented at the time school started," the article concluded.
FILE - Children wear protective masks inside an elementary school classroom with separate desks for social distancing measures.
The authors included researchers from the CDC, Arizona State University and public health departments of the two counties, which include metro Phoenix and Tucson and which together account for over 75% of the state’s population.
While the CDC supports masking requirements in schools, they have been hotly debated in Arizona.
A judge is currently considering a challenge to a new state law to bar mask mandates at public schools. It is scheduled to take effect Wednesday.
Arizona on Sept. 24 reported approximately 3,000 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as 10 more deaths.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Monitor your health daily
Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.
More COVID-19 in Arizona news
- Pima County OKs insurance penalty for unvaccinated employees
- Arizona's AG rebuffs Biden DOE's mask probe: Won't 'tolerate' efforts to undermine state sovereignty
- COVID-19 vaccine for younger children could be a game-changer for schools
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