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University Researchers Recommend 3-Week Shutdown, Mask Order

Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via AP, File

University researchers say the current surge in the coronavirus outbreak will present Arizona with a hospital crisis that could become a disaster unless the state takes steps such as ordering a three-week stay-home shutdown and implementing a statewide mask mandate.

Members of the COVID Modeling Team at the University of Arizona said without such steps, it would be like facing a major forest fire without evacuation orders. The team has tracked the outbreak since last spring and made its recommendations in a letter Friday to the state Department of Health Services. The department said it is on “high alert" and closely monitoring the situation. 

Arizona health officials Monday reported 822 new known COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths. It comes as infections, hospitalizations and ICU bed occupancy have surged since October. COVID deaths, however, remain well below Arizona’s major spike in mid-July.

More than 326,000 people in Arizona have tested positive since the first cases were confirmed in the state more than eight months ago and nearly 6,700 have died.

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