As omicron variant arrives in Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey is sticking with his old playbook

By Stacey Barchenger | Arizona Republic

The feds are sending in military members to support Arizona’s already overwhelmed hospitals, and Pima County brought back a mask mandate.

Meanwhile, some Arizonans are considering scrapping holiday travel or scrambling to find scarce at-home tests for the coronavirus, all in the face of what public health officials predict will be another enormous surge in COVID-19 early next year tied to the omicron variant.

Related: Express our humanity, but do it safely’: State’s top health adviser shares holiday advice

The new variant, however, will not change Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s old playbook.

The fiercely anti-mandate Republican governor will continue to rely on voluntary vaccination as the state’s primary method to beat back a virus that has killed at least 23,800 Arizonans so far.

“We are going to continue to encourage Arizonans to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Wednesday when asked about the governor’s strategy. “It’s safe and effective and free. It is the best tool we have to fight COVID, and that message needs to be hammered at again and again and again.”

On Thursday, Ducey released a new video advertisement to help share that message.

“Arizona has come a long way in the battle against COVID-19, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” the governor says in the video.

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