Scottsdale's mayor rescinded the city's mask mandate on Monday, but residents aren't off the hook with wearing masks. Face coverings still are required in most public places in Scottsdale due to Maricopa County's mask mandate.
In a statement issued on Monday, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said he removed Scottsdale's mandate because of the significant decline of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates in Maricopa County over the past several weeks.
When Gov. Doug Ducey passed an executive order allowing local communities to mandate face coverings in mid-June, Arizona was experiencing a rapid spike in cases.
“When the original face covering order went into effect, our hospital system was in crisis,” Lane said in a statement. “The alarming growth in cases across the county was pushing hospital capacity to the limit, and Scottsdale’s mask requirement was part of efforts in communities across the state to get that situation under control. It worked.”
The city's announcement reiterated that the county mandate remains and that the pandemic is not over as we enter flu season.
Maricopa County mandate still in place for Scottsdale, rest of county
The countywide mandate means masks are still required in all enclosed public areas and spaces where social distancing isn't possible. Exemptions exist for people with medical conditions, children under the age of two and people eating and drinking in restaurants.
Clint Hickman, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said last month that there were no specific benchmarks for the county to begin discussing changes to the mandate, but he said that getting schools reopened would factor into decisions regarding the mask mandate.
In July, Gov. Doug Ducey issued a separate executive order requiring that all students and staff over the age of 5 wear masks while at school, until the Arizona Department of Health Services no longer deems them necessary.
Several Valley school districts have since reopened for in-person learning, while others are holding off on returning until after fall break. The Scottsdale Unified School District resumed in-person classes on Sept. 14 for pre-K students and on Monday for kindergarten through second grades.
Hickman's main priority in supporting the county mask mandate was to get hospital beds, which were filling up amid a surge in cases, to a reasonable level, according to Scott Isham, Hickman's chief of staff.
The county met in a closed-door executive session on Monday with public health officials and for legal advice on the mask mandate, although no decisions were made, according to county spokesperson Fields Moseley.
"Everyone wants to make sure we’re as safe as possible," Moseley said.
The Board of Supervisors' next public meeting is slated for Oct. 7, though the board could schedule a special meeting to discuss the issue before then, Moseley said.
Lane: 'We are not out of the woods'
Along with the countywide mandate, many cities passed their own mask requirements. City-imposed face-covering mandates remain in effect in cities such as Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and Chandler.
Gilbert allowed its mask mandate to lapse in mid-July, putting the town under the county's purview.
Arizona reported 469 new COVID-19 cases and nine new known deaths on Sunday, as ventilator usage for patients hit its lowest point since early April.
While the state has allowed businesses such as gyms, restaurants, bars and museums to reopen, Lane said the public must remain vigilant and committed to public health.
“As I have stated previously, no amount of government regulation is a substitute for individual behavior and decision making," Lane said in the statement. "As we enter flu season, COVID-19 remains active and potentially dangerous. We are not out of the woods."
“It remains the civic responsibility of each person to continue protecting others and themselves, by taking extra care if part of the vulnerable population, staying home when possible and certainly when sick, by practicing good hand hygiene, and by wearing masks around other people.”
Have a tip out of Scottsdale? Reach the reporter Lorraine Longhi at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-243-4086. Follow her on Twitter @lolonghi.
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