By KEVIN HARTUNG
If you think the on-again/off-again mask mandates are just adding to the confusion, you are not alone.
In 2021, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced on May 13 that vaccinated individuals could resume normal daily activities without wearing a mask or physical distancing, then qualified that guidance on July 27 by advising vaccinated individuals to continue wearing masks and observe physical distancing “in indoor spaces.”
While many of us are hoping for an end to COVID-19 mandates, it appears that for Pima Community College it is not in the cards—yet. In her response to an email inquiry, Libby Howell, Executive Director/Media, Community, & Government Relations for the college provided the current outlook for the college.
“As for how the College responds to COVID and decides which COVID measures should be in place, Chancellor Lambert put a Pandemic Planning Committee in place,” she stated. At last week’s meeting, the group discussed if the college should relax the mask mandate. Ultimately, the group made the recommendation to Chancellor Lambert to continue the mandate through the spring semester and then evaluate the situation again.”
When the federal government issued its guidelines in March of 2020, it acknowledged that state and local governments had the final say when it came to mask mandates. While Arizona has never had a statewide mask mandate, several highly visible enterprises along with many individuals took the federal government’s advice and donned masks. Now businesses and individuals are trying to determine just what the CDC’s new guidelines mean for them in the face of continuing COVID cases and the new Omicron variant.
On February 25, 2022, the mandates changed despite the Omicron variant. According to an article in the New York Post by Gabrielle Fonrouge and Natalie O’Neill, all recommendations for low-risk areas are being removed by the CDC. “The agency will give each county in the US a “low, medium or high” risk ranking based on the new metrics, and advise on recommendations accordingly,” the article states. People in high-risk areas or even medium-risk areas are being asked to continue mask mandates; hence, the PCC’s stance on wearing masks.
Howell asked if the article could include the following, “PCC’s recent partnership with the Pima County Health Department to host a drive-through free testing clinic for the community at PCC’s West Campus for three weeks. We had 110 PCC employees and about 15 students volunteer their time, and the clinic served 5,120 individuals. Special kudos go to the PCC Facilities folks, who took the lead in the planning and implementation of the clinic.”