The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Pinal County is 2,459, and the Board of Supervisors is making a second attempt to take a stand on face mask use.
In another special meeting, planned for Wednesday, supervisors are expected to “highly encourage” the populace of unincorporated areas to wear face masks in public. Last Friday, when the number of cases was 1,911, the board reworked a resolution after hearing from more than a hundred residents. They gave themselves another week to review it. The resolution is similar to policy put in place in the City of Maricopa.
Though receiving 34 letters in opposition to a mandate to wear face masks and 119 in favor, the four Republicans on the board were seeking to issue a request rather than a requirement. The proposed resolution adopts a policy of encouraging face mask use.
“I can count,” Democrat Pete Rios said at the time. “Even though I would want to require the use of face masks, it’d be a 4-1 tire track on my back.”
The board had considered a resolution for all of Pinal County, but the final draft considered this week applies to the unincorporated areas.
The updated resolution going to the board this week includes a reference to guidance in Gov. Doug Ducey’s Executive Order 40. That itself is a reference to guidance, not mandates, from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, asking businesses to require the use of face masks if social distancing is not feasible.
The resolution states it will be in effect “for the duration of the COVID-19 Pinal County Public Health Emergency” that was declared by the board. Supervisor Stephen Miller questioned the vagueness of that timeline last week.
In response, Dr. Shauna McIsaac, director of the county’s Public Health Services, said the goal is to achieve 60%-70% immunity, either through antibodies in those who have had the virus or vaccines for those who have not. A vaccine, she said, may take up to 18 months to develop and get to market.
“So, we’re wearing masks for two years now?” Miller asked.
“Absolutely,” McIsaac replied.
She said there is currently a lack of effective antibody testing, something the University of Arizona is trying to remedy.
Residents who wrote to the board in favor of mandating masks said it was a common-sense measure that would mitigate the spread of the virus. Wearing masks protects others, one wrote, while another said a mandate was a small but effective thing to ask. The virus, one wrote, “is a health issue, not a political one.”
Those opposed to a mandate said it would cause many community conflicts as “Karens” try to turn in anyone they thought was in violation. They called a requirement “excessive” and causing unnecessary fear.
After the supervisors made changes to the resolution (though not changing the title, which references a mandate), they scheduled this week’s meeting and possible executive session on the matter.
TEXT OF THE PROPOSED PINAL COUNTY RESOLUTION:
RESOLUTION NO. 061920-LSE-03
RESOLUTION OF THE PINAL COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MANDATING MITIGATION EFFORTS IN THE FORM OF FACE COVERINGS
WHEREAS, due to existing cases of COVID-19 within the State of Arizona and community spread of the illness within the State, on March 11, 2020, Governor Douglas A. Ducey declared a state of emergency for Arizona for COVID-19; and,
WHEREAS, multiple cases of COVID-19 have been identified within Pinal County and the situation is rapidly evolving with person-to-person transmission and continued community transmission; and
WHEREAS, the conditions and risk of increased exposures to residents of Pinal County have caused the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to declare a public health emergency; and issue a Declaration of Local Health Emergency on March 20, 2020; and
WHEREAS, A.R.S. § 26-311 authorizes the Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, during such emergency, to govern by proclamation and have the authority to impose all necessary regulations to preserve the peace and order of the county; and
WHEREAS, ON June 17, 2020, Arizona Governor Douglas A. Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-40, Containing the Spread of COVID-19 Continuing Arizona Mitigation Efforts, that allows a county, based on conditions in its jurisdiction, to adopt policies regarding the wearing of Face coverings in public for the purpose of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and that any enforcement of such policy shall focus first on educating and working to promote best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigation and that individuals be given an opportunity to comply prior to any enforcement action being taken; and
WHEREAS, the CDC and the ADHS continue to update their guidance for prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 with additional information to help individuals make better decisions about going out while preventing and mitigating the spread of the virus; and
WHEREAS, published June 11, 2020, the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America concluded “wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic,”; and
WHEREAS, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors recognize that it is critical to also maintain 6-feet physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, but the use of Face Coverings, as recommended by the CDC and the ADHS, can further aid in slowing the spread of the virus permitting offices, businesses, venues and activities in Pinal County to remain open; and
WHEREAS, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors adopts the Requirements for Businesses issued in conjunction with Executive Order 2020-40, issued June 17, 2020.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that a public health emergency continues to exist necessitating the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to adopt the following policy and order applicable in unincorporated Pinal County, encouraging Face Coverings to be worn in public effective June 19, 2020.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
- “Face Covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face, or a full plastic face shield. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a Face Covering.
- All members of the public are highly encouraged to, wear a Face Covering in the following situations:
a. When they are inside or outside any location or facility seeking or receiving Pinal County Government Services;
b. When they are boarding or riding on public transportation or paratransit or are in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle. (This Resolution does not require any person to wear a Face Covering while driving alone, or exclusively with other members of the same family or household, in a motor vehicle).
- All Pinal County Departments and Elected Officials, contractors and volunteers are encouraged to:
a. Require their employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a Face Covering at the workplace or when performing work off-site any time the employee, contractor, owner or volunteer is:
i. interacting in person with any member of the public;
ii. working in any space visited by members of the public,
iii. working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
b. Take reasonable measures, such as posting signs, to remind their customers and the public that they wear a Face Covering while inside of or waiting in line to enter the facility, or location.
c. Public Safety Employees and Detention Officers are not required to wear a Face Covering while on duty, unless required by the Sheriff.
- It is recommended that children under two years or younger not wear a Face Covering.
- Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling or running, are encouraged to wear a face covering when they are unable to maintain six feet distance from others.
- Persons working alone in separate office spaces or in non-public workplaces where there is not more than adequate physical distancing area, based on the size and number of people in the space (indoors and out of doors) are encouraged to wear a Face Covering.
- When wearing a Face Covering or mask poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk, such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance, the wearing of Face Covering will not be required. A person who declines to wear a Face Covering because of a medical condition or whose religious beliefs prevent the wearing of a Face Covering shall not be required to produce documentation verifying the condition, or belief. Persons who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication shall not be required to wear a Face Covering.
- When eating or drinking in public at a restaurant, bar, or other food or beverage establishment a Face Covering is encouraged where individuals are unable to maintain a distance of six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence. A mask or Face Covering is encouraged to be worn when entering or exiting any such establishment.
- Any enforcement of this Resolution shall focus first on educating and working to promote best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigation. Before any enforcement action is taken, a person shall be notified and given an opportunity to comply.
- This Resolution shall remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 Pinal County Public Health Emergency or until lawfully amended or terminated.