COVID-19 in Arizona: Phoenix mayor says mask requirements won’t be enforced at Trump rally

PHOENIX – President Donald Trump’s scheduled rally in Phoenix on Tuesday will go ahead as planned, and Mayor Kate Gallego has pledged not to enforce local face mask requirements. The announcements came as Arizona’s COVID-19 cases surpassed 50,000 over the weekend.

On Friday, Phoenix City Council approved requirements of wearing face masks but Gallego told CNN Sunday that those rules will not be enforced at Trump’s rally at Dream City Church in north-central Phoenix. Gallego told CNN she hopes Gov. Doug Ducey will wear a mask at the rally to set a good example and “send a strong message.”

Ducey, she said, “believes in masks and he could be a great spokesman for telling the young people who are there to wear masks, but the best spokesman would be the president.”

Ducey announced last week that he would allow local governments in Arizona to mandate face coverings but stopped short of issuing a statewide edict. In making the announcement Wednesday, the governor wore a mask at one of his news conferences for the first time.

Dream City Church leaders told KTAR their auditorium holds 3,000 seats. According to Gallego, Phoenix does not have the resources to advise people who want to attend the rally to be tested for COVID-19 before and after.

“I am deeply concerned about the lack of access to testing in my community,” the mayor said. “I would certainly like everyone to get a test, but right now, the city is actually getting into public health even though we’ve never done it before because there is such a need for testing in this community.”

Church leaders said Monday the church has contracted a local air-conditioning company to install air purification units in hopes of preventing further spread of COVID-19 at upcoming events.

As of Monday, June 22, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 54,586 cases of COVID-19 and 1,342 deaths in the state. It said 577,449 tests for COVID-19 have been completed in public and private labs in Arizona, and 8.4% of tests have come back positive for the virus.

Arizona sheriff tests positive for COVID-19, refuses to wear a mask

White House officials turned away Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday before a planned meeting with Trump. Lamb said he likely was infected after a campaign event June 13 where he did not wear a mask while surrounded by nearly 200 people also not wearing masks, according to USA Today. Despite testing positive, Lamb told USAToday he doesn’t plan to enforce mask requirements “I don’t like to wear masks. And I respect people’s personal choices to not wear a mask.” There is no requirement in Pinal County to wear masks, but officials plan to meet Wednesday to discuss one.

Arizonans wait up to 13 hours for COVID-19 testing

Nearly 1,000 Arizonans waited for COVID-19 testing in Maryvale on Saturday, some as long as 13 hours, according to The Arizona Republic. Staff began turning people away because of heat conditions and limited tests, a representative from Equity Health told the newspaper. Some people left on their own because of the heat and the long wait.

Glendale antibody testing uses clear masks for testing comfort

A Glendale antibody testing service, hosted at Mama Gina’s pizzeria, requires staff to use clear masks to allow people “to feel more at ease,” Lisa Nico Productions stated in an email to Cronkite News. With more than five Nick Lowery Youth Foundation-sponsored antibody testing events in Arizona, they have tested more than 470 people, with four active positive results. From testing on Saturday, 58 people were tested for COVID-19 with only one positive result.

Summer water park closes for the season amid rise in COVID-19

Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe announced it will close for the remainder of the summer to avoid furthering the spread of COVID-19. Tickets and season passes can be refunded or used in the future, even if prices go up, park officials said in a news release, and they’re confident of reopening for summer 2021.

Native American groups discuss COVID-19 and mental health

With more than 320 cases reported on the Navajo Reservation, tribal Vice President Myron Lizer wants to raise awareness about negative impacts on mental and behavioral health, Cronkite News reports. “Please stay connected with relatives and neighbors by phone or video chat and remind them that they have support,” he recently stated in a press release.

How to help

The Navajo Nation’s Chinle Chapter is in need of 1,000 washable face masks, 25% for children and 75% for adults. To donate medical grade personal protective equipment to local and rural residents in Chinle, contact Walton Yazzie at 505-466-6232.

News Reporter, Los Angeles

Hannah Foote is an Arizona native who expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in justice studies and ethnic studies. Foote, who primarily is a digital reporter, also has reported for The State Press and the Downtown Devil.