News from the Governor’s Office

Gov. Ducey Announces $25M For Medical Professionals, Additional Safety Measures

New Actions Include Additional Funding For Hospital Staffing, ADHS Holiday Guidance, Testing At Airports, Vaccination Tracking, Increased Safety For Students, Doubling Dollars For PSAs

At a press conference at the state Public Health Lab, Governor Doug Ducey today announced a list of new actions to support hospitals and medical professionals and combat the spread of COVID-19. Arizona will invest $25 million to bolster hospital staffing in the midst of rising cases nationwide and reward frontline medical workers for their dedication. Arizona Director of Health Services Dr. Cara Christ also announced new guidance for holiday gatherings to help Arizonans make smart decisions and prevent new infections over the holidays.

Actions announced at today’s press conference include:

  • Adding $25 million to bolster hospital staffing;

  • Publishing new ADHS health guidance for holiday gatherings;

  • Launching testing sites and health campaigns at airports;

  • Doubling Investments In Public Service Announcements;

  • Ensuring mask use on school grounds and buses;

  • And ensuring up-to-date data on COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Arizona, and our nation, remain in a public health emergency. This has been a long haul — but we need to redouble our efforts,” said Governor Ducey. “For eight months, Arizonans have acted responsibly and safely to protect others and fight COVID-19 — and today’s efforts build on that. The $25 million for frontline workers in our hospitals will help ensure we have plenty of staffing as numbers rise, and it will support the medical professionals working long hours to care for Arizonans. Our additional safety measures will help keep Arizonans safe as we enter the winter months and snowbirds migrate to our state. Thank you to the families, individuals, businesses, organizations, community leaders, school leaders and more who continue to adapt to follow health guidance and protect fellow Arizonans.”

“We want all Arizonans to stay safe during the holidays,” said Dr. Christ. “We ask that all Arizonans make responsible plans for Thanksgiving that include moving your celebrations outside, reducing the size of your gathering, celebrating virtually with loved ones who are higher risk, and more.”

Support For Health Care Heroes
The Governor is directing $25 million to boost and support staffing at our hospitals. The funding can pay for higher staff costs due to current demand, and allow hospitals to reward their existing direct care employees with bonuses for their dedication. This funding comes from the Coronavirus Relief Fund as part of the federal CARES Act.

Safe, Healthy Thanksgiving Celebrations
Dr. Christ today released official guidance for Arizonans to celebrate Thanksgiving safely and responsibly. The guidance directs Arizonans to:

  • Celebrate outside;

  • Minimize the number of guests;

  • Physically distance when possible and only touch or hug those from your immediate household;

  • Wear masks if your gathering includes guests from outside your household;

  • Celebrate together with your quarantine pod, using a tablet and virtual meeting programs to bring family and friends together without exposing one another;

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing, serving and eating food;

  • Use hand sanitizer;

  • And avoid self-serve or buffets.

Find additional guidance for the holiday season at azhealth.gov/winterholidays

Testing At Airports
As more winter and holiday visitors travel to Arizona, many are entering through airports. At the Governor’s request, Dr. Christ will work with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Tucson International Airport to launch testing sites, allowing incomers to get tested immediately with quick turnaround. The Department of Health Services also will work with the airports on inbound messaging around the importance of wearing masks and information on where travelers can get tested.

Doubling Down On School Safety
Schools are already required to have mask policies, but Dr. Christ will be issuing an emergency measure to make sure schools statewide are implementing those policies on school grounds and on school buses. More information can be found at azhealth.gov

Preparations For Vaccine Distribution
Earlier this year, the state assembled a vaccine task force that is actively working to ensure the effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines once they are available. To support these efforts, Governor Ducey today issued an Executive Order extending the Enhanced Surveillance Advisory to collect information on vaccinations.

The enhanced surveillance will ensure all Arizonans who want the vaccine will receive the appropriate follow-up doses at the correct time. It will also allow the state to identify and support vulnerable populations and underserved communities.

Enhanced Health And Safety Campaigns
Arizona is amplifying public health messaging and doubling investments in public service announcements to ensure every individual knows what steps to take to protect themselves and their loved ones ⁠— from wearing a mask to getting tested to remaining physically distant.

View the Governor’s Executive Order HERE.

View information on COVID-19 and daily updates HERE.

View guidance for the upcoming holiday season HERE.

Arizona Department Of Health Services Strengthens Mask Wearing Requirement For Schools

Emergency Measure Aims To Improve Mitigation Measures On Campuses And Buses

To protect the health of our school communities, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) today issued an emergency measure requiring district and charter schools to immediately mandate that masks are worn on school campuses, on school buses and during school-associated activities by all students, faculty, staff, contractors, and visitors.

“Keeping kids and teachers safe is one of our top priorities,” said Governor Ducey. “This emergency measure issued by ADHS addresses the serious threat COVID-19 poses to our communities. It requires schools to implement the simple step of mask-wearing to reduce transmission and keep our kids safe.”

In July, Governor Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-51, which required all school districts and charter schools to develop and implement a policy to require masks for all staff and students. It also required ADHS and the Arizona Department of Education to work collaboratively to develop the Guidance for Safely Returning to Schools, based on the Roadmap for Reopening Schools.

As part of this guidance, schools must implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies, based on the school benchmarks, to keep students and staff safe on campuses. These mitigation strategies include mask-wearing, physical distancing, increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols, limiting the size of groups, and increased hand hygiene.

“Based on recently released data, we now know masks provide more protection than previously thought,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “The new studies show that wearing a mask also protects the mask wearer, not just those around them. I encourage everyone to wear a mask whenever they are around people they don’t live with.”

Public health works closely with schools to provide technical assistance to schools on implementing mitigation measures, such as masks. To ensure everyone who needs a mask has access to one, ADHS has partnered with Hanes to provide five free masks to students and their families. Families and schools can go to azhealth.gov/ordermasks to have free masks shipped to them.

For more information, please visit azhealth.gov/COVID19.


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