Arizona is one of the few states that never made masks mandatory statewide. But allowing cities to impose their own restrictions — while also shutting down businesses such as bars and gyms — contributed to a 75 percent drop in coronavirus cases in less than one month, according to a new analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state suffered one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks over the summer, with infections peaking after stay-at-home orders were lifted. In mid-June, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) lifted an executive order that had banned communities from imposing mask mandates. Most cities immediately began requiring face coverings in public, and the CDC report estimates that those local ordinances affected roughly 85 percent of the state’s population.
The number of new cases being reported each day stabilized about two weeks later, around the same time that Ducey closed bars, gyms, water parks and movie theaters. With that two-pronged approach in place, the seven-day average of new cases fell 75 percent from July 13 to Aug. 7, the researchers found.
The analysis, published Wednesday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, notes that officials also urged residents to stay home and wear masks even when not strictly required. Until a vaccine is available, “a combination of voluntary and enforceable measures is more effective than any single measure,” it concluded.