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Guest opinion

Valadez & Bronson: Ducey must allow counties to mandate CV-19 masks in public

Two Pima County supervisors, Chairman Ramon Valadez and Supervisor Sharon Bronson, signed a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey declaring that he must allow counties and cities to mandate face masks be worn in public to stem the spike in coronavirus cases in Arizona.

The letter, also signed by supervisors from Santa Cruz, Cochise and Yuma counties and the mayors of San Luis and Somerton, notes the recent dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Southern Arizona. Ducey's executive order related to the pandemic bars counties and cities from taking action more limiting than the statewide orders that do not provide for mandatory mask-wearing.

The full text of the letter, sent this weekend:

June 13, 2020

The Honorable Doug Ducey,
State of Arizona
1700 West Washington St.
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

RE: Local Control of Health Measures during COVID-19 Health Crisis

Governor Ducey,

The four counties that cover Arizona’s border with Mexico, Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma Counties, along with the Cities of San Luis and Somerton are experiencing very high rates of confirmed cases of COVID-19, severely impacting the health and wellbeing of our residents and our communities. To that end, we are committed to taking the necessary steps to help prevent the continued spread of this deadly virus.

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We have all been tirelessly advocating that our residents adhere to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, including the washing of hands, avoiding close contact, and wearing of facemasks around others. And perhaps the most significant one of these is the ability for people to wear facemasks in public and when social proximity cannot be avoided. But the reality is that since the state relaxed the Stay at Home Executive Order, many residents have interpreted this to mean that the danger is over.

We applaud your efforts to encourage people to follow the CDC guidelines but, what we see on the ground and in our communities is that the message is simply not getting through. Our rates of confirmed cases of COVID-19 are growing and we just do not see any signs of the rates leveling off in the near future.

We also wanted to point out that the data provided through the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is typically one or two days behind what we see at home. Thus, in real time, the situation is actually worse than what is reported. We understand that ADHS is doing the best it can with the information that they have.

But, in fact, as of last night:

• Santa Cruz County (as of June 11, 2020):
157% increase between June 1st and June 11th
914 Total Cases
97 New Cases
43 Hospitalizations
306 Recoveries
8 Deaths

• Pima County (as of June 12, 2020):
3,628 Total Cases
149 New Cases
222 Deaths

• Yuma County (as of June 11, 2020):
2942 Total Cases
178 New Cases
92 Hospitalizations
42 Deaths

• Cochise County (as of June 11, 2020):
206 Total Cases
25 New Cases
14 Hospitalizations
84 Recovered
4 Deaths

Thus, the aforementioned Cities and Counties are asking that you provide the necessary authorization for us to mandate the wearing of facemasks whenever our residents are in public or in situations where social proximity cannot be avoided. We hope to be able to deploy this measure by Tuesday of next week. We hope to hear from your office as soon as possible. This mandate would not have any financial penalties associated with it, but it would certainly garner the attention of the general public and, we hope, greatly increase the number of people wearing facemasks. By mandating that people wear face masks, we will slow the spread of the disease and lower the risk of losing more lives to this virus as we seek to reopen our economy.


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The Honorable Sharon Bronson
Pima County
Arizona Border Counties Coalition

The Honorable Ann English
Cochise County
Arizona Border Counties Coalition

The Honorable Bruce Bracker
Santa Cruz County Chairman
Arizona Border Counties Coalition

The Honorable Tony Reyes
Yuma County Chairman
Arizona Border Counties Coalition

The Honorable Ramon Valadez
Pima County Chairman

The Honorable Gerardo Sanchez
City of San Luis Mayor

The Honorable Gerardo Anaya
City of Somerton Mayor

Sharon Bronson, a Democrat, is a member of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

Ramon Valdez, a Democrat, is the chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors

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Reese Brown/U.S. Army, Fort Belvoir

A worker at the Fort Belvoir, Va., Community Hospital, which shifted operations to handle more COVID-19 cases.


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