Arizona health and school leaders warn against ending mask mandates

Sep 30, 2020, 3:00 PM
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – Arizona health leaders and the state’s top education official are calling for the continuation of face mask requirements to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and multiple health groups on Wednesday urged cities to keep mask mandates in place, days after requirements were lifted in Lake Havasu City.

“Eliminating these mask mandates will only increase the potential for community spread and place additional burden on our health care delivery system,” Health System Alliance of Arizona Executive Director Jennifer Carusetta said in a press release.

“We urge Arizona leaders to maintain existing mask mandates and COVID-19 mitigation efforts.”

Carusetta’s advocacy group represents major Arizona health care networks such as Banner Health, Dignity Health, HonorHealth, Northern Arizona Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare.

In a separate press release from the state Department of Education, Hoffman said mask mandates will help schools stay open and expand in-person instruction.

“I urge municipal leaders to continue their masking efforts in their communities — and I urge leaders in areas without mask requirements to take action now,” she said.

“Our school communities are depending on continued steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services provides COVID-19 benchmarks to guide K-12 school reopening plans, but the districts have the final say in whether to allow in-person instruction.

Some districts have resumed traditional schooling, some are offering online-only instruction, and others have adopted hybrid plans that mix virtual and limited on-campus classes.

Face coverings are mandatory in Arizona schools that allow students on campus.

Beyond the schools, there is no statewide mandate.

In June, when a spike in cases was turning Arizona into a coronavirus hot spot, Gov. Doug Ducey granted local governments the authority to make wearing face masks in public mandatory.

Many cities and counties soon implemented mask requirements, but several have lifted them recently as the spread of COVID-19 has declined.

Mayor Cal Sheehy of Lake Havasu City suspended the western Arizona tourist destination’s mandate on Monday, although he promoted the continuation of mask use.

“Public health professionals believe that the best strategy is to wear a face covering or a mask – and I still encourage that,” he said. “But it is just asking our citizens to take personal responsibility and to do what is best for themselves and their family.”

Scottsdale and Gilbert previously ended their mandates, but residents in those cities, and the rest of metro Phoenix, remain under the jurisdiction of Maricopa County’s mask requirement.

Some major businesses, including Walmart and Safeway, have their own face covering requirements.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has no impact on some people and is seriously debilitating or fatal for others. Infected people without symptoms – which include but are not limited to cough, fever and difficulty breathing — are capable of spreading the virus.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee speaks during the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on...

Republican Arizona treasurer Kimberly Yee withdraws from governor’s race

Arizona treasurer Kimberly Yee announced Saturday she will be withdrawing from the Republican primary for governor.
1 day ago
(Pixabay Photo)...

18-month-old girl in critical condition after drowning incident in Paradise Valley

An 18-month-old girl was taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition after a drowning incident in Paradise Valley Saturday morning, authorities said. 
1 day ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Phoenix police arrest wanted man involved in multistate manhunt

A man wanted for shooting a New Mexico police officer and fleeing a Colorado jail was arrested early Friday morning in Phoenix, police said.
1 day ago
(Pixabay Photo)...

Man arrested for allegedly shooting teen fast-food worker in Phoenix

A man was arrested Friday evening for allegedly shooting a 16-year-old fast-food restaurant worker in the head after an altercation in Phoenix on Thursday night, authorities said. 
1 day ago
FILE - Martin Luther King III speaks during a rally for voting rights, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, on ...
Associated Press

MLK III: History to remember Sinema unkindly over filibuster

PHOENIX (AP) — Martin Luther King III came to Arizona with harsh words for Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, whose refusal to change the Senate’s Jim Crow-era filibuster rules makes voting rights legislation unlikely to pass. King told a crowd campaigning to protect voting rights that Sinema cannot simultaneously express support for the legislation while also […]
1 day ago
(City of Glendale Photo)...

New 4-acre lake at Heroes Regional Park in Glendale now open

Grab those fishing poles as the new lake at Heroes Regional Park in Glendale opened on Thursday, the city announced.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

HVAC upkeep in Arizona saves money, keeps families prepared in the long run

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27: Wide receivers John Brown #12 and Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona C...
Arizona Department of Gaming

The most memorable games in Arizona sports history every fan needs to know

Sports teams in Arizona have seen their fair share of instant classic games, but there's a few that every fan needs to know.

How your family can explore the Musical Instrument Museum

Whether you want to spend a day with family, do crafts with kids at home, or have an adult night out, the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has options. As the world’s only global musical instrument museum, MIM offers interactive and immersive exhibits to foster an appreciation of different cultures and their instruments. “A visit […]
Arizona health and school leaders warn against ending mask mandates