Mandatory face masks

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Mayors from cities across the state have said they are looking into creating policies to mandate mask-wearing in public places after Gov. Doug Ducey announced Wednesday that local governments have the authority to do so. Ducey's mandate comes after Arizona has seen a significant spike in coronavirus cases.

Today the Arizona Department of Health Services reported a single-day record of 2,519 new cases. That's just two days after the previous single-day record was set on Tuesday with 2,392 new cases. This is the highest number of COVID-19 new daily cases reported since the outbreak started.

Mayors from Tempe, Mesa, Flagstaff, Tucson and Tolleson all tweeted that they would issue proclamations requiring citizens to wear masks in public places.

"We've got to do something different. Wearing masks is not a big deal," said Mayor John Giles of Mesa. 

Mayors from Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert and Glendale all said they would hold special City Council meetings today and tomorrow to vote on mask policies.

"I think it is one of the best ways that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 when we are out in the community," said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. 

Gallego said she plans to work with other mayors across the county to keep their mask policies similar. 

"I'm currently working with my fellow mayors because we'd like to be as consistent as possible across cities. We hope to have a great program that will slow the spread in Maricopa County," Gallego said.

Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels said the Gilbert Town Council will meet to vote on a mask ordinance tomorrow morning and they will work with the town attorney on how a mask ordinance would be implemented.

"Balancing public health and individual rights is not an easy task," Daniels said.

Scottsdale is also looking into an ordinance. 

"Given the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout Maricopa County, Scottsdale Mayor W.J. 'Jim' Lane is working with the city’s legal team to develop a mandatory public mask ordinance in Scottsdale," a City spokeswoman said in a prepared statement. "As government we are balancing the need to act for the sake of communitywide public health, while also allowing as much personal freedom as we can. Once all policy considerations are addressed, the mayor plans to issue an emergency declaration enacting the regulation."

CALIFORNIA ANNOUNCES STATEWIDE FACE MASK ORDER

One day after Ducey said Arizona's local governments could implement their own face mask requirements, the governor of our neighbor to the west issued a statewide mandate. The requirement covers most of California's indoor settings and outdoor places where social distancing is not possible.

“Science shows that face coverings and masks work,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement announcing the order. “They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”

Other states that have statewide face mask orders include Michigan, New York, Maine, Delaware, and Maryland.

BUT NOT ARIZONA

Asked why he was not just creating a statewide mandate, Ducey said it would be difficult to enforce and was not necessary. "If you look at parts of our state, especially rural Arizona, there's very little transmission. So if you do something like this and you have, and I'm making up numbers, 12 or 13 counties that tell you to pound sand on an executive order because, 'that doesn't reflect what's happening here.' That's a self-defeating executive order," said Ducey.

But not everyone agrees that a city-by-city patchwork approach is the best solution.

Many have said they support a mandate for everyone wearing face coverings. A Change.org online petition has been launched to require mandatory masks in public. Thousands of people have already signed it.

 

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