Despite virus surge, Arizona governor won't require masks

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FILE - In this June 11, 2020 file photo Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey answers a question after he announced the latest coronavirus numbers and recent spike in cases during a news conference in Phoenix. As coronavirus cases continue to surge in Arizona, the governor shows no signs of tightening restrictions such as forcing the use of face masks. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool,File)

PHOENIX – Coronavirus infections are surging in Arizona. Hospitalizations are increasing and more people are dying since the state relaxed stay-at-home orders last month.

But in one of the nation’s COVID-19 hot spots, Gov. Doug Ducey is not requiring residents of the Grand Canyon state to wear masks in public, and it seems a good many people agree with him.

In shopping malls, restaurants and the crowded bar scenes of Scottsdale and Tempe, most patrons have disdained the use of cloth face masks that health officials advocate to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Robert Fowler, a truck driver in Phoenix, wears a mask as required for work but otherwise he goes about mask-free.

“I’m not worried about it,” Fowler said while waiting for a table Thursday at Snooze A.M. Eatery, where the patio was full and only employees were seen donning face masks.

Despite COVID-19 case numbers trending upward, Fowler has no plans to change.

“Everybody’s going to get COVID one way or the other eventually,” he said. “People are gonna do what they want to do regardless.”

In a red state with a Republican governor, the trend seems to be to follow President Donald Trump’s lead. Get the state reopened and keep the face masks in your pocket — that's where Ducey kept his Thursday during a news conference in which he dismissed concerns that the dramatic increase in virus cases may overwhelm hospitals.