TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) – As Arizona reached a near-record day of new coronavirus cases, 4,471 on Nov. 20, 2020, the mayors of four cities held a Zoom press conference demanding Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey impose a statewide mask mandate.
Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks, the World Health Organization’s top Europe official said at a Thursday news briefing.
It’s something Gov. Ducey has refused to do, although in June, he gave cities and towns the ability to impose mask mandates as they saw fit. The governor has repeatedly said 90% of the state is under a mandate but says ultimately it’s a personal responsibility.
The mayors said part of the problem is too many people don’t take the personal responsibility seriously enough.
“There is a fatigue going on in this state, in this nation,” said Coral Evans, mayor of Flagstaff.
Will Humble, executive director for the Arizona Public Health Association, believes there should be a statewide face mask mandate.
“Gov. Ducey said Wednesday during his press conference that quote, ‘We need more than just messaging,'” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. “I completely agree.”
The mayors say they’re following CDC guidelines, which affirms the efficacy of masking, and they say recently, it’s become more apparent that masks protect both the wearer and those around them.
“I join my fellow mayors in asking Gov. Doug Ducey to implement a statewide mask requirement,” said Kate Gallego, the mayor of Phoenix.
Fitness 1 Gym will have to make changes and then apply to reopen, often taking weeks.
The concern among some is the enforcement of a mask mandate, which has become a political hot potato. Local police agencies have shied away from enforcing a mask mandate, so it’s left up to the county health department, which has the enforcement tools.
“It’s not just TPD. It’s all of us who are responsible to call the Pima County Health Department and talk about those businesses, bars, restaurants that are bad actors,” said Romero.
Millions of people will sit down at the Thanksgiving table this week across from family members on the opposite side of the political divide. If talk turns to the election, it could easily become a testy turkey day.
Pima County Health does have a web page where the public can report businesses, which do not adhere to the mask policy. But the concern is, without a statewide standard, things become muddled.
“If we had a statewide mandate, there wouldn’t be mixed messages. There would be a united front on how we’re tackling this issue,” said Tovar. “That’s what we’re asking for as mayors.”
The mayors are also asking for tighter travel restrictions, especially during the holidays. They’re asking anyone who comes into the state to quarantine for 14 days or present a negative test.
“All it takes is one person traveling to Tucson to visit family during the holidays to make a huge impact in terms of spread,” said Mayor Romero.
The governor on Wednesday called for voluntary testing at airports. The mayors are also complaining they have been left out of the process, which means the statewide strategy is not as cohesive as it should be.
With Thanksgiving fast approaching and the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise in a significant way, people all over the country are making adjustments to plans for their traditional family gatherings.
Mayor Romero has not talked to the governor since March. Mayor Gallego since June.
“This is not going to magically disappear,” said Mayor Tovar. “We do not need mixed messages, we need a united voice.”
We reached out for a response from the governor’s office, and this is the response.
“Today’s press conference from the mayors could be summed up as, ‘Do what I say, not what I do.'” The mayors want to see more mandates, while admitting they have no interest in enforcing their own, and for good reason. As the governor has said consistently, our focus should be on compliance, including education and encouraging personal responsibility. It was good to see the mayors repeat the same thing when finally questioned about why they aren’t enforcing their own mandates.”
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