ASU President Michael Crow urges county to keep mask mandate in effect

(Facebook Photo/Michael Crow)

PHOENIX – Arizona State University President Michael Crow is urging county officials not to the lift face mask mandate in the Phoenix area.

Last week, Crow sent a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors calling mask requirements “the most effective tool available for the reduction in COVID-19 spread.”

Crow copied Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ when he sent the four-page missive on Thursday. ASU released the letter to the media on Monday.

In it, Crow said he’s under the impression the board is considering repealing the countywide mandate that was implemented on June 19, when coronavirus cases were skyrocketing across Arizona.

“I am writing to strongly suggest that the repeal or modification of these regulations at this time would not be in the best interests of the people of Maricopa County as we all work together to develop and implement a steady, thoughtful and effective approach to mitigate COVID-19 spread while also seeking to advance the economic and social well-being of the county’s 4.5 million residents,” the letter says.

Crow laid out the argument that a rush to move beyond the coronavirus pandemic would likely cause a rise in cases and damage the region’s economic recovery.

“Recent events in other cities and regions of the U.S. and in other countries point to the result of attempting to return to a ‘normal’ that is not likely to exist again for many months and perhaps years,” the letter says.

“Wisconsin and Georgia — and Spain and Italy — are struggling with renewed outbreaks and spikes in COVID-19 cases after political leaders developed a false sense of confidence that all was well.”

In the first months of the pandemic, Ducey maintained rigid statewide control of coronavirus-related regulations.

After his stay-at-home order expired in mid-May, cases and hospitalizations soared. Ducey resisted issuing a statewide mask mandate, but in mid-June he gave local governments authority over the issue.

Many cities, including Phoenix, immediately issued mask requirements.

Soon after, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a mandate. That meant masks were, and still are, required throughout metro Phoenix, even in cities like Scottsdale and Gilbert that let their mask regulations expire.

The county order was open ended and remains in effect until the board votes to rescind it.

Stricter city ordinances take precedence over the county order. The following regulations are the minimum standard across Valley as long as the county order is active:

People older than 6 must wear masks that cover their mouth and nose in enclosed public spaces (where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained).
Adults with children 2-5 years old must make reasonable effort to make them wear masks where required.
All public transportation riders and operators must wear a mask.
All employees in public spaces (such as restaurants or stores) must wear masks.
Enforcement should focus on public education, but refusal to wear a face covering could result in a fine of up to $50.

The county regulations don’t apply inside homes and include exemptions for certain situations, including the following:

While eating and drinking in a restaurant.
While walking or exercising outdoors (while maintaining 6 feet of distance).
When in a personal vehicle, office or other personal space.
For people with medical conditions that prohibit them from safely wearing a face covering.

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