PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona public schools without mask requirements were several times more likely to experience COVID-19 outbreaks than schools with mandates in place when the current school year began, researchers said Friday in an article published by a federal health agency.
The article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the impact of mask requirements at K-12 district schools in Maricopa and Pima counties, the state's two most populous counties.
“The odds of a school-associated COVID-19 outbreak were 3.5 times higher in schools with no mask requirement than in those with a mask requirement implemented at the time school started," the article concluded.
The authors included researchers from the CDC, Arizona State University and public health departments of the two counties, which include metro Phoenix and Tucson and which together account for over 75% of the state's population.
While the CDC supports masking requirements in schools, they have been hotly debated in Arizona.
A judge is currently considering a challenge to a new state law to bar mask mandates at public schools. It is scheduled to take effect Wednesday.
Arizona on Friday reported approximately 3,000 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as well as 10 more deaths.