Rep. Stanton says Arizona’s COVID aid should be tied to state mask policy

Dec 8, 2020, 9:15 AM
Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., pays respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the P...
Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., pays respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (Getty Images Photo, Pool/Alex Brandon)
(Getty Images Photo, Pool/Alex Brandon)

PHOENIX – U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona said the state should be denied federal coronavirus relief funding if it remained without an overall mask mandate.

“If this policy were to be enacted, [Gov. Doug Ducey], in an instant, would issue a statewide mask mandate. He would not want to be at a loss of federal funds,” Stanton said Tuesday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News, hours before health officials reported a record-high 12,314 COVID-19 daily cases.

The Democratic congressman said cities and counties that had mask mandates would continue to receive federal funding.

“We want to be very targeted: if you’re not willing to follow basic science, if you’re playing politics with this, we can’t trust you with federal dollars,” Stanton said.

In a press release Monday, Stanton said Arizona counties and localities with mask rules have recorded lower case totals and infection rates than those that did not.

Ducey has avoided enacting a statewide mask mandate by leaving the policies up to local governments.

Maricopa County’s mask policy has been in effect since mid-June.

“Arizona is an outlier, unfortunately, in the unwillingness of the governor, who can do it with the stroke of a pen, to issue a mask mandate and help save lives,” Stanton said.

Arizona’s weekly percent positivity for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, an indicator of how much the virus is spreading in the community, has reached its highest level in nearly five months.

As of Tuesday, the positivity rate was 18% for the 147,994 tests reported from last week, which would be the highest since it was 19% for the week starting July 5.

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Rep. Stanton says Arizona’s COVID aid should be tied to state mask policy