Phoenix, Mesa mayors see mandatory masks as lifesaving virus measures

Jun 18, 2020, 11:25 AM | Updated: 3:01 pm
(Twitter Photos/Mayor John Giles; Mayor Kate Gallego)...
(Twitter Photos/Mayor John Giles; Mayor Kate Gallego)
(Twitter Photos/Mayor John Giles; Mayor Kate Gallego)

PHOENIX – Mayors of two of the largest cities in Arizona – both in metro Phoenix – agreed Thursday that wearing masks was necessary for residents to slow the spike of coronavirus cases.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Mesa Mayor John Giles told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News that Gov. Doug Ducey’s announcement Wednesday granting local governments the authority to make mask-wearing mandatory was going to help them protect their citizens.

“I think we’re going to take a very common-sense approach to this,” said Giles, whose city council was working on a proclamation over the next few days to require masks in public.

His Phoenix suburb is the third-most populous city in the state. Giles said the proclamation would amend an emergency declaration that went into effect mid-March.

“The point of this is, when you can’t do social distancing, when you’re in a grocery store or when you’re crowded in with other people, that’s when it’s important to use a mask,” he said.

Arizona health officials reported a single-day record 2,519 coronavirus cases Thursday.

Gallego said the Phoenix City Council would vote on a policy at a meeting Friday.

“I do think it’s important to make [mask-wearing] mandatory,” she said. “I suspect we will have a robust debate about some of the details of the policy.”

Any measure passed would “respect Gov. Ducey’s request that we lead with education. This is about safety, not enforcement,” said the civic leader of the state’s most populated city.

“This is a great way to protect our community,” Gallego said.

Both mayors said they were working with other mayors in the surrounding area to ensure as much consistency as possible in their policies, “So that we don’t have folks confused as they travel across [city lines],” Giles said.

Earlier this week, the Maricopa County health department said the region had surpassed 20,000 COVID-19 cases.

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Phoenix, Mesa mayors see mandatory masks as lifesaving virus measures