Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego calls use of face masks ‘a success story’

Aug 19, 2020, 3:00 PM | Updated: 7:29 pm
(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego)...
(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego)
(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego)

PHOENIX – The mayor of Arizona’s largest city called the use of face masks “a success story” in the state’s ongoing battle against the coronavirus.

Many Arizona cities require people to wear face coverings in public under orders enacted after Gov. Doug Ducey gave local governments the authority to do so in mid-June.

“We think that has slowed the transmission, maybe by 35%, so that is a success story,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday.

With COVID-19 cases rising after the Arizona’s stay-at-home order ended in mid-May, Gallego and other prominent Democrats pushed Ducey to either issue a statewide mask order or let local authorities do so.

He decided to let cities and counties have say in the matter on June 17, and Phoenix was among the first cities to enact a requirement.

Two days later, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a requirement. That meant masks were, and still are, required throughout metro Phoenix, even in cities that don’t have their own regulation or let theirs expire.

Later in June, Ducey issued statewide executive orders to close businesses such as bars and gyms and to restrict restaurant occupancy. The state also has been encouraging mask usage through its “Tougher Than COVID” public relations campaign, which began last month.

The spread of coronavirus has been slowing since the mitigation measures went into effect, and and multiple key metrics are now at or near the lowest they’ve been in a month or more.

“Masks may be with us for a while,” Gallego said. “I do not enjoy them in 117 degrees more than anyone else does, but they do seem to be helping.”

Maricopa County’s order was open ended and will remain in effect until the board votes to rescind it.

Stricter city ordinances take precedence over the county order. The following regulations are the minimum standard across Valley:

  • People older than 6 must wear masks that cover their mouth and nose in enclosed public spaces (where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained).
  • Adults with children 2-5 years old must make reasonable effort to make them wear masks where required.
  • All public transportation riders and operators must wear a mask.
  • All employees in public spaces (such as restaurants or stores) must wear masks.
  • Enforcement should focus on public education, but refusal to wear a face covering could result in a fine of up to $50.

The county regulations don’t apply inside homes and include exemptions for certain situations, including the following:

  • While eating and drinking in a restaurant.
  • While walking or exercising outdoors (while maintaining 6 feet of distance).
  • When in a personal vehicle, office or other personal space.
  • For people with medical conditions that prohibit them from safely wearing a face covering.

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Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego calls use of face masks ‘a success story’