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[Kyle Norby]

The City of Maricopa is strongly encouraging its residents to wear face masks to prevent the most vulnerable in the community.

“…The Maricopa Mayor and City Council, and the City of Maricopa strongly encourage & request residents to wear masks where social interaction takes place, while visiting businesses and other institutions outside of one’s close familial circle, and especially where social distancing is not possible in these given locations,” said a news release released by the city on Thursday afternoon.

While face masks are not mandated, Mayor Christian Price said he wants all people in the city to cover up.

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“Wearing a mask is a small thing each of us can do to protect those most vulnerable in our community,” Price said in the release. “The Governor said he would like to see every Arizonan wear a mask. I specifically, would like to see every Maricopan wear a mask, especially when unable to social distance from others around us. All of Arizona’s businesses, non-profits & institutions are now required to establish these new and updated guidelines for our well-being. So as we frequent these various entities let’s all do our part and show off how much we care about each other by masking up Maricopa!”

The City said its staff will follow requirements from Gov. Doug Ducey, including wearing face masks when they are within six feet of others and/or when interacting with the public.

“Thank you to all our caring residents who plan to do the same,” the release concluded.

On Wednesday, Ducey gave local governments in Arizona the authority to mandate masks in their cities. The governor’s move came amid public pressure for him to take action to address the surging number of new coronavirus cases in the state. On Thursday, state health officials reported 2,519 confirmed cases, eclipsing the previous single-day high of 2,392 cases reported on Tuesday. The number of deaths rose Thursday by 32 to a total of 2,519.

Ducey said Wednesday any mandate should rest with local authorities because the number of new cases varies greatly from city to city.

He also announced enhanced guidelines for businesses, organizations and professional offices, including that they must “require face coverings when physical distancing is not feasible.”

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Price referenced that new requirement: “The Governor now says that citizens of Arizona are requested – HIGHLY SUGGESTED even – to wear masks or face coverings when out and about from your own home …. It’s not necessarily “mandated”, per se, but we are requested to follow the most up to date CDC guidelines and in the Gov’s own words: “He would like to see every Arizonan wear a mask or face covering.” (Especially when unable to social distance).

Among the dozens of comments in response to the mayor’s post were expressions of support and pleas to make masks mandatory.

A petition posted created on  urged Price to make masks mandatory.

A number of mayors in other Arizona cities – Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale and Tucson among them – have already moved to require face masks.