Virus Outbreak Arizona

Customers wear masks as they wait to enter a store Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. A group of Arizona medical professionals is urging Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to take steps like requiring masks in public to slow a major increase in new coronavirus cases that has made the state a national hot spot. (AP Photo/Matt York)

CASA GRANDE — Reported cases of the coronavirus jumped again in Pinal County, as Casa Grande officials are now requiring residents to wear masks to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Casa Grande officials are now requiring all city employees, those entering or exiting city facilities, residents and local businesses, including patrons, to require or wear face masks when within 6 feet of others.

The city issued the order Wednesday night following the announcement by Gov. Doug Ducey that local leaders can take such action if they deem it necessary in their jurisdictions.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Casa Grande ZIP codes had 30 more positive cases of the virus, bringing its total Thursday to 408.

There were also 95 new cases of the virus reported in Pinal County, bringing the county total to 1,888. Eloy had 24 new cases and Arizona City saw six more cases. The ZIP codes covering the three communities make up the hot spot in the county.

Maricopa was also up 12, bringing its total to 186. Maricopa, Pinal County's second largest city, stopped short of requiring masks of its residents. Mayor Christian Price issued a statement Wednesday night that he believes voluntary guidelines will be sufficient in curbing the spread in the community.

Statewide, health officials reported 2,519 new cases of the virus, a new record for one-day count. That brings the Arizona total to 4,344. There were also 32 new deaths reported, bringing the total to 1,271. There were no new deaths reported in Pinal County.

The overall number of cases includes people who have recovered or showed no symptoms.

Arizona State University researchers recently modeled how wearing face masks could substantially reduce projected COVID-19 deaths throughout the country.

"A common fallacy has been by some that if a mask isn't 100% effective — then why wear it?" the city said in a press release. "Take the state of Washington, for instance. ASU researchers found that face masks which were merely 20% effective but worn by most of the Washington population could still reduce mortality by up to 65%. Compounding scientific research like this is why Mayor Craig McFarland said wearing face masks is so important to the health of the Casa Grande community."

Arizona has seen large increases in confirmed virus cases over the last 10 days. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations call for the wearing of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (i.e., grocery stores, home supply stores, pharmacies and other retail stores), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

The city said the cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, per current CDC guidance. According to McFarland, these things are simple yet very effective in reducing spread.

"Wearing a face mask protects others like your Mom, Dad, Grandmother, Grandfather, Aunt, Uncle and anyone that you love or may know that has a diminished immune system," McFarland said.

The city has obtained additional reusable face masks for city employees and has disposable face masks to provide to residents who do not have one upon entering city buildings.

Ducey faced pressure as the state became a national virus hotspot, and he said Wednesday that Arizona cities and counties can make wearing face masks mandatory to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Allowing local governments to decide would work better than a statewide mandate, he said.

Ducey previously resisted allowing cities to do more than the state allows to slow the virus spread, saying statewide directives avoid a patchwork of regulations.

Mayors in Phoenix, Tucson and other cities said they would move quickly to require masks.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.