What You Need To Know About Coronavirus Mask Rules In Phoenix And Around Arizona
LAUREN GILGER: The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Arizona continues to soar today.
MARK BRODIE: This morning, the State Department of Health Services reports nearly 2,200 people tested positive for COVID-19. That brings the state total number of people to 54,586 since the pandemic began. The agency reports 84% of hospital ICU beds are being used for patients with COVID symptoms. Only three new deaths were reported this morning. 1,342 people have died from COVID-19 in Arizona since March.
GILGER: And in an attempt to slow the continued spread of the virus in our state, over two dozen cities and towns across Arizona now require their residents to wear masks, and several more strongly recommend them. Three counties have also adopted requirements, including Maricopa County. And to help unmask — there's a mask pun for you — how those policies are working here is our own Ben Giles. Good morning, Ben.
BEN GILES: Good morning.
GILGER: Thank you for the mask pun. So when we last spoke, Gov. Ducey had just issued a new executive order. This time instead of stopping local jurisdictions from implementing their own pandemic policies, he gave them some new authority, right?
GILES: Yeah. For once Ducey delegated. He didn't issue a statewide mask requirement, but instead he passed it on to local governments and said, "You are now allowed to do this." Previously, he had said strongly, "You can't issue orders that go above and beyond what I'm telling people to do."
GILGER: OK. So briefly, let's go through some of the places that are now requiring masks. Where are they?
GILES: So we've got three counties: Pima, Yuma and Maricopa. A lot of major cities: Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, Mesa. Most of the cities in the Valley appear to have some kind of a mask policy. And rural isn't left out — Bisbee, Globe, Nogales, San Luis, Payson. All of these cities and towns, they have a mask requirement now.
GILGER: How does the overlap work? Like if Maricopa County adopts a countywide mask requirement, which it has, does that apply in all the cities and towns within the county boundaries?
GILES: So the short answer for Maricopa specifically is yes. You can think of the county's mask order as a bit of a baseline order for the entire county. That's incorporated and unincorporated parts. So anyone over the age of 6 and even kids older than 2, they strongly recommend, at least have a good faith effort to try to get your kid to wear a mask. All of this, of course, applies if you can't keep a safe 6 feet of social distance and public spaces. Now, Maricopa County's order was carefully crafted. It doesn't supersede local rules. So, for example, Avondale. They have a proclamation that says everyone must wear a mask, and they only have an exception for kids under the age of 2. That's different than the age requirements for the county. So in Avondale, that proclamation stands. It doesn't get nullified by the county's order.
GILES: But what does happen is for cities and towns that didn't adopt their own policy, Maricopa County's order does apply. So even if you live in a place that passed the buck or decided, "No, we're not going to get involved in this," Maricopa County's order still says you have to wear a mask.
Arizona Coronavirus Cases, Deaths
GILGER: OK, Ben. So to the big question: With masks required countywide here and elsewhere across the state, how are these kind of policies going to be enforced?
GILES: So that really depends on where you are, and you should look at some of the fine legalese print of these proclamations, orders, ordinances, what have you. Maricopa County is a good example where education comes first. So the county says if you're not wearing one, you're gonna be told it's required. If for whatever reason, maybe you still don't put one on, your first offense gets you a warning. Further offenses after that come with a $50 fine. So that is an example of that education-first push, which is pretty universal. That's in part because Ducey's allowance for cities and towns to require masks came with a mandate that says you need to encourage people to do this, you need to educate first. Phoenix too, education first. There is a civil citation that they specifically say should be issued only if necessary, although in Phoenix you could be fined anywhere from $0 to $250.
GILGER: All right. KJZZ's Ben Giles this morning. Thanks so much, Ben.
GILES: Thank you.