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Arizona mayors meet to discuss need for statewide mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge

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TUCSON (KVOA) - As COVID-19 cases spike across Arizona, many mayors across the state met Friday morning to plead for a statewide mask mandate.

Under Gov. Doug Ducey's administration, a mask mandate is up to the city or county. But some leaders say that is not enough.

The mayors from Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tolleson say what they desperately need is a statewide mask mandate and more communication.

Each city has a mask mandate, but there was push back with asking all of those mayors how can you ask for a statewide mask mandate when enforcement at the local level is still a challenge.

Friday morning, Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans and other mayors from across the state made it clear they believe masks have shifted away from the medical emergency and has become a political issue, dividing Arizonans.

"COVID-19 does not understand political parties. It does not know one county from another," Evans said. "This is a global health pandemic."

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero is calling on Ducey to unite the public under one mandate.

"6,600 lives that we are not going to recover," Romero said. "We are asking for clear statewide action and leadership from Gov. Ducey."

Under the Ducey administration, local governments can implement mask mandates. In addition, the executive order gave the city the right to enforce the policy.

But some say the enforcement is not enough. They raised the question -- how can officials enact a state policy when it's not being held up at the local level?

Romero says they are doing the best they can.

"Pima County Health Department is in charge of enforcement," she said.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego says with a statewide mandate there will be less interpretation of the law.

She also says punishments for individuals going against the mandate is counterproductive.

"Arresting people and putting them in jails is a way to transmit," Gallego said. "It is not the way to do this. We need everyone to make their own decisions."

With no word back from Ducey or his administration, the mayors ask for everyone to use good judgment during the holiday season.

Austin Walker

Austin is a Reporter at KVOA News 4 Tucson. He graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2020.

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