The Latest: Researchers urge Arizona shutdown, mask mandate

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Artists wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus perform on a street open to only pedestrians during weekends in Bengaluru, India, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. The project called Clean Air Street initiative was launched earlier this month and will run through February, 2021. India has more than 9 million cases of coronavirus, second behind the United States. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

PHOENIX — University of Arizona researchers say the current surge in the coronavirus outbreak will present the state with a hospital crisis that could become a disaster unless the state takes steps such as ordering a three-week stay-home shutdown and implementing a statewide mask mandate.

Members of the university's COVID Modeling Team said failing to take such steps would be like facing a major forest fire without evacuation orders. It also recommends providing economic aid to affected small businesses and families and preventing evictions and foreclosures.

The team has tracked the outbreak since last spring and made its recommendations in a letter Friday to the state Department of Health Services.

Many local governments have imposed mask mandates since Gov. Doug Ducey last summer lifted a prohibition on such orders. The local mandates cover an estimated 90% of the state’s population but enforcement is lax or nonexistent in some places.

Arizona on Saturday reported 4,136 additional known COVID-19 cases and 36 more deaths.



— With no action by Washington, states race to offer virus aid