By Don Herrington, Arizona Department of Health Services
The Arizona Department of Health Services has consistently followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance through the COVID-19 pandemic, and today’s updated CDC recommendations on mask use are no exception.
The CDC’s mask recommendations now vary depending on a community level that takes into account COVID-19 cases per year. 100,000 inhabitants and the impact of COVID-19 on the local health system. The COVID-19 community level for each county can be found at bit.ly/community_levels.
According to the CDC, community levels in Maricopa, Yavapai, Coconino and Santa Cruz counties are currently such that residents may consider walking without masks in public indoor environments. In all other Arizona counties, the CDC recommends masks in all public indoor environments, including schools.
Even with these new recommendations, ADHD continues to encourage Arizona people to assess their own risk when making mask decisions. Also note that this new CDC guide complements each county’s own recommendations based on local conditions.
Regardless of a county’s community level, you may still want to wear a mask if you consider yourself to be in danger or want to be near someone in danger. Examples include elderly people, people with weakened immune systems, and people who live or spend time with people who are at greater risk for COVID-19. Masks may also be required in environments such as businesses, airports, hospitals, public transportation, and assembly care facilities.
What does not change in the CDC’s guidelines, regardless of a county’s COVID-19 community level, is the importance of being vaccinated and boosted and tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or are 5-7 days after exposure. You will find convenient providers of safe, free and highly effective vaccines and booster doses at azhealth.gov/FindVaccine and hundreds of test providers at azhealth.gov/Testing.
When worn correctly and consistently, all types of recommended masks reduce COVID-19 transmission. N95 and KN95 respirators have been shown to provide the highest levels of protection for the wearer and others. We have more information on masks and mask use at azhealth.gov/Masks.
Editor’s Note: Don Herrington is interim director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Learn more at azdhs.gov.