Arizona’s Top Health Official Still Warning Against Large Gatherings

Arizona’s top health official said Wednesday that she is still encouraging people to avoid mass gatherings despite recent social media posts that showed crowded venues during Memorial Day weekend.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said it is on Arizonans to make good decisions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, even as the state continues to reopen.

“Everybody has got a personal responsibility in keeping them and their loved ones healthy and there are very simple steps to take to avoid coming into contact with COVID-19,” Christ said.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s “Stay Healthy, Return Smarter, Return Stronger” executive order, which went into effect May 16, offers guidance to maximize physical distancing from others and avoid social settings where physical distancing isn’t practical.

Posts showed areas like Old Town Scottsdale and tubing on the Salt River filled with people over the holiday weekend.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane lashed out against businesses and patrons who appeared to not be properly practicing social distancing in a series of tweets posted Tuesday.

“We’re monitoring that. We did see those pictures of some of those events and I saw them from all over the country as well,” Christ said. “That wasn’t my experience when I was out.”

Christ said she spent personal time in public this past weekend for the first time since the pandemic started.

She said she was impressed by how many people were following Ducey’s guidance and wearing masks.

Even so, Arizona had reported 17,262 cases of coronavirus and 831 deaths as of Wednesday morning, so much more caution is needed.

“I think we have learned a lot about how it’s transmitted and some of the risks and who it’s riskiest to, so I think we have strategies that we didn’t have previously that will help control that, but we do need everybody to do their part,” Christ said.

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