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Despite Ducey’s order, Pima County says mask mandate still valid

(Facebook Photo/Pima County Health Department)

PHOENIX – Pima County officials said Tuesday that the Tucson-area face mask mandate remains in effect despite Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order last week to lift it.

On Thursday, Ducey rolled back the state’s remaining COVID-19 mitigation requirements, citing favorable viral spread and vaccine distribution metrics.

His order declares that local governments can’t make any regulations pertaining to the pandemic and specifically mentions face masks.

The county issued a press release Tuesday saying that, according to its legal team, Ducey doesn’t have authority to prevent the enactment of “reasonable public health measures.” Therefore, the county said it will continue to enforce its mask mandate.

“We believe we are on solid ground,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County’s chief medical officer. “Do we believe we are going to be challenged on this? Absolutely. Bring it on.”

C.J. Karamargin, a spokesman for Ducey, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the continuation of the mask mandate is inconsequential.

“They have not enforced the existing mask mandate,” Karamargin said. “It seems like a lot of political grandstanding.”

Ducey never ordered a statewide mask mandate. In June 2020, he gave local jurisdictions authority over the issue. Other than that, he’s kept the power to regulate all of the state’s COVID-19 response in his own hands.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed its resolution requiring most people to wear face coverings in public on Dec. 4, 2020.

“Our opinion is that this continues to be the law of the land … both in incorporated and unincorporated Pima County,” Garcia said in a livestream.

Pima County isn’t alone in pushing back against Ducey’s actions.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said Thursday her city’s mask mandate will continue.

On Friday, the Flagstaff City Council said it doesn’t plan to rescind the city’s proclamation requiring face coverings but won’t enforce it while studying Ducey’s order.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said the science contradicted Ducey’s decision.

“The horrible surge last June was only curbed by masking — when the governor finally allowed cities to do it,” Gallego said in a series of tweets Thursday. “To abandon precautions now is like spiking the ball on the 5-yard line.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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