Ducey recommends mask use, tells cities and counties to make and enforce local rules

Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday recommended Arizonans wear face masks in public, but he left it to local authorities to implement and enforce the guidelines. He also criticized “outlier” Arizona businesses for not taking pandemic precautions seriously. (Photo courtesy of Governor’s Office via YouTube)

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey is recommending Arizonans wear masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, but he stopped short of issuing a statewide mandate. Instead, Ducey on Wednesday said city and county governments can implement and enforce their own mandates.

After entering the news conference wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer – a first while cameras rolled – Ducey told reporters he expects local mandates to have better compliance because local leaders have a better idea of what their constituents want.

Ducey said he recommends “all Arizonans wear face masks when you can’t social distance” to help protect vulnerable communities and reduce infection rates.

As of Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 40,924 cases of COVID-19 and 1,239 deaths in the state. It said 501,963 tests for COVID-19 have been completed in public and private labs in Arizona.

“We have successfully slowed the spread of COVID-19 in the past. We’re going to successfully slow COVID-19 again,” he said.

Moments after Ducey’s announcement Wednesday, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego tweeted that face masks will be on the next City Council agenda.

In her tweet, Gallego said the council will vote “to mandate face masks for residents going on essential business and in public spaces.”

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero also announced via Twitter that she’s amending her emergency proclamation to mandate masks in public, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Nogales Mayor Arutro Garino and others have previously expressed interest in having more local power to control the spread of the pandemic. On Monday, Garino applauded Ducey for encouraging Arizonans to follow federal guidelines, including masks, but urged further action because new infections still are on the rise.

Since Ducey lifted his stay-at-home order May 15, a number of restaurants have closed again because of outbreaks of illness among their employees.

“Arizona businesses also need to do their part,” Ducey said. “As we’ve reopened, there have been good actors. And I’ve said several times, there have been outliers. By and large, Arizona businesses have been terrific, but there have been more than an outlier here and there.”

Other cities and local leadership are expected to make announcements in coming days.

“Serious changes are needed to be made, and there will be enforcement around those changes,” the governor said.

News Reporter, Washington, D.C.

Lisa Diethelm grew up in California and expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a certificate in philosophy, rhetoric and literature. Diethelm is a digital reporter for Cronkite News. She also serves as the editor in chief and politics editor for the Downtown Devil.