PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The City of Phoenix is keeping its mask mandate in place, despite the fact that Gov. Doug Ducey relaxed COVID-19 guidelines late last month in an executive order.
The declaration from Phoenix city leaders came Tuesday afternoon. The City said that the declaration "mandates mask-wearing in public for most people within the City of Phoenix. The mandate follows Arizona Department of Public Health Face Covering Guidance and is in accordance with current Centers for Disease Control guidance stating that masks should be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Officials say the mask mandate will stay in effect until the City Council votes to end or amend it.
In a tweet, Mayor Kate Gallego said, "I stand with the majority of the council who agree that (the Governor's) unilateral decision to order cities to abandon mask requirements is a case of significant government overreach. Protecting public health must come first. Masks are the best & fastest way to fully reopen & recover."
Back on March 25, Gov. Ducey rolled back COVID-19 restrictions in the state through an executive order. The order stated that businesses could now make their own policies when it comes to masks and banned local government mask mandates. He said at the time: 'I’m confident Arizona’s businesses and citizens will continue to act responsibly as we gradually get back to normal." He encouraged people to continue to: "Practice the fundamentals. Wear a mask, practice physical distancing, stay home when sick, wash your hands frequently AND roll up your sleeve and get the vaccine."
While Ducey had never issued a statewide mask mandate during the pandemic, many cities and towns implemented their own mask requirements during the summer.
But under his latest executive order, Ducey said, "those local mandates will be phased out," and counties, cities, and towns will not be able to enact new mask mandates.
Mayor Gallego has been one of Ducey's most pointed critics during the pandemic, saying he's done far too little to slow the spread of the virus while tying the hands of mayors who tried to do more. "This crisis has made it clear to all of Arizona that you put partisan politics ahead of saving lives," Gallego wrote in a letter dated April 2.
Gallego has said the City of Phoenix "will continue to be a leader in implementing measures to stop the spread of COVID. We would welcome you to join us in that effort."
The mayors in Flagstaff and Tucson have also defied Ducey and maintained their mask mandates. Additionally, Pima County officials have taken a similar stance in keeping a face covering mandate in place. They said they would continue to enforce the mandate to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Research indicates the coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets that are emitted when people breathe, talk, cough or sneeze. Public health experts have expressed concern that lifting restrictions too soon will allow the virus to spread to more unvaccinated people and potentially mutate in ways that make vaccines less effective.
However, Arizona has reached a huge milestone in its vaccinations. As of Tuesday, April 6, one-third of Arizona’s population has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, says the Arizona Department of Health Services. That's one in three people who have been partially vaccinated in not quite four months.
- 2,371,894 people have had at least one shot
- 33.0% people are fully vaccinated
- 1,492,999 vaccine doses administered
Looking at Arizona's vaccination numbers as compared to the rest of the country, we were running on the low end of the middle, as of Sunday, April 4, before we hit that 33% milestone. According to The Associated Press, individual states have between 24% and almost 41% of their populations at least partially vaccinated.