Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Pima County Board of Supervisors Set To Vote Friday on Mandating Masks

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge Supervisor Ramon Valadez.
  • Supervisor Ramon Valadez.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors will meet Friday to vote on whether to mandate masks when people go out in public to slow the rising spread of COVID-19.

After Gov. Doug Ducey announced this afternoon that he would give local jurisdictions the power to mandate masks, Board Chairman Ramon Valadez called for the 3 p.m. meeting.

The ordinance, which is still being drafted, would apply countywide, including within all jurisdictions, Valadez said.

Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson said she was in favor of mandating masks.

Ducey, who wore a mask before beginning the press conference for the first time, said different areas of the state were facing different circumstances, so he was relaxing his emergency regulations that limited the actions of local communities. He said it would be up to local communities to set up rules and penalties.

Earlier today, Romero said she had asked City Attorney Michael Rankin to develop a legal strategy to require masks.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik, who last week called on Ducey to allow local communities to set their own standards, called Ducey's announcement a "half-step."

"The fact that we can do masks is fine," Kozachik said. "We ought to be able to do more."

Kozachik had earlier today called for the city to return to the emergency proclamation issued by Romero in March that limited restaurants to curbside service and closed bars, gyms, theaters and other gathering places. Kozachik said he believed the city's charter gave the council that authority, although he said he expected it would be challenged by Republican state lawmakers.

Ducey, who had not emphasized the wearing of face masks before last week, recommended that people should “act responsibly” and wear the masks when out in public.

“Every Arizonan should wear a face mask,” Ducey said. “It’s the smart thing to do.”

Ducey also said his administration would be providing more guidance to businesses to prevent large gatherings.

Ducey's action comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona soared to nearly 41,000 as of today after the state reported 1,827 new cases reported this morning.

Pima County had 4,385 of the state's 40,924 confirmed cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. That's more than double the 20,123 confirmed cases the state had on June 1.

A total of 1,239 people have died after contracting the virus, including 229 in Pima County.

Maricopa County has more than half the state's cases, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases hitting 22,272.

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