Phoenix mayor: Arizona governor’s order restricts city COVID response

Dec 7, 2020, 2:04 PM | Updated: 2:42 pm
(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego)...
(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego)
(Facebook Photo/Mayor Kate Gallego)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s statewide COVID-19 policy restricts what cities can do when it comes to battling the current surge of cases and hospitalizations, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Monday.

“The governor’s executive order reserves those authorities to the governor,” she said during an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM, referring to Gov. Doug Ducey’s action at the the beginning of the pandemic. “The city of Phoenix is taking this very seriously, and we have put the protections in place that we are able to do so.”

Last week, the Phoenix City Council voted to halt athletic field reservations and tournaments at city-run venues.

That added to Phoenix regulations that include a face mask mandate in public when social distancing isn’t possible, restricted access to city facilities and the closure of senior centers.

“We’re trying as much as possible with city facilities to protect our residents and city employees,” she said. “We want everyone to take this virus seriously, and we hope that the city of Phoenix can provide an important supporting role.

“The city of Phoenix does not operate a public health department, and the governor is the primary decision maker.”

Gallego came under attack from Councilman Sal DiCiccio last week after he was on the losing end of the 7-2 vote over the city’s latest coronavirus response.

“Mayor Gallego has spent months attacking the state over their COVID measures but has not proposed even one single bold move of her own. Not one single bold move,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “Instead, she has repeatedly relied on knee-jerk reactions like we saw today regarding the parks.”

Multiple COVID-19 metrics in Arizona are at or approaching the highest they’ve been since the start of the pandemic.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,567 new coronavirus cases, breaking a four-day streak above 5,000, and no additional deaths on Monday. That put the state’s totals at 365,843 COVID-19 infections and 6,950 fatalities.

Last week, Tucson enacted a nightly curfew in its effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Gallego didn’t answer directly when asked if Phoenix would consider a similar measure.

She responded by listing steps already taken by the city, including allocating funds for COVID-19 testing and enhanced cleaning measures.

She said that this week the council would look at how to distribute remaining federal COVID relief funds and the city’s role in vaccine delivery once it becomes available.

She also said she’d like the city to address what will happen when the federal eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year.

“I’m very worried about that impact not the residents of this community,” she said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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Phoenix mayor: Arizona governor’s order restricts city COVID response