PHOENIX — Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane rescinded the citywide mask mandate Monday due to the state’s declining coronavirus cases, but community organizations are fighting back as flu season approaches.
The June 19 order requiring masks in Scottsdale will no longer stand, Lane said in a news release. However, face coverings are still required in public places in Maricopa County, including Scottsdale.
“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 Arizona Department of Health Services reported 566 new coronavirus cases and 34 confirmed deaths Thursday; 175 cases and 25 deaths originated from Maricopa County, according to the state’s data dashboard. The Scottsdale Unified School District is back to in-person classes with some coronavirus restrictions. County hospitals report ICU bed availability, and bars and gyms throughout the Valley have begun to reopen after forced closures, due to Arizona’s improved infection rates.
But community leaders in the area joined to ask the mayor to reconsider rescinding the order.
The Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce formally approved the June 19 mandate and is now encouraging the city to maintain the order throughout the city. The chamber is the largest business organization in Scottsdale.
“Removal of a face covering mandate could have negative repercussions on the health and well-being of our community and could potentially offset the progress made in combatting the COVID-19 virus,” Mark Stanton, president and CEO of the chamber, said in a statement. “We believe a mask mandate supports the tremendous efforts made by our residents, business owners, operators and health care professionals to continue reduction of the spread of COVID-19.”
HonorHealth, which operates three medical centers in Scottsdale and remains the city’s largest employer, also released a statement on the mandate and called for its return.
“Not only have we seen less spread since the implementation of mask mandates, our physicians and staff were noticeably encouraged by the symbolism of the community doing all they could do to help reduce the spread of this disease,” HonorHealth CEO Todd LaPorte said, according to the Arizona Republic.
The Scottsdale City Council struck down a measure to reinstate it Tuesday with a 4-3 vote.
A spokesperson for the city of Scottsdale declined to comment on whether the mayor would reinstate the mandate if infection rates were to worsen.
But Lane’s statement acknowledged that the virus is far from over and urged residents to continue to stay safe as the state heads into flu season amid the pandemic.
“As we enter flu season, COVID-19 remains active and potentially dangerous,” he said. “We are not out of the woods.”