Ducey Ends Local Mask Mandates Despite Health Community Warnings


Raheemat Alade, OwlFeed Editor-in-Chief

Since the beginning of the year, COVID-19 cases have been drastically decreasing. Most states have shown improved results regarding case and death numbers, even in the state of Arizona where during last winter it was number one in most Covid cases and most deaths. 

With the help of the surge of vaccinations and mask mandates, Arizona was able to allow students to go to school safely and socially distanced. 

Unfortunately, Governor Doug Ducey thought that it was the best time to get rid of the mask mandate and allow large gatherings, and many Arizonans aren’t too happy.  

On March 25 Ducey lifted COVID-19 restrictions on Arizona businesses and events, and prohibited the requirement of local mask mandates. 

The Republican governor said events drawing more than 50 people, such as youth sports tournaments, concerts, as well as bars, would no longer require governmental approval. 

He also stripped cities and counties of their power to enforce mask mandates, except in government buildings or on public transportation.

His order still allows businesses to enforce mask mandates if they want, but cities, towns, and counties must lift theirs. According to AZ Central, Ducey said in a recent statement, “In Arizona, we never did a shutdown, so it’s impossible to have a grand reopening.

“Instead, we are continuing to take reasonable, safe, and sensible steps.”

The surprise announcement wasn’t really well received by most people, especially healthcare workers, who, by the way, weren’t prepared or consulted before the announcement. 

According to AZMirror.com, the CEOs of HonorHealth, Banner, Dignity Health, Tenet Healthcare, and Northern Arizona Healthcare also wrote an op-ed for the Phoenix Business Journal echoing the Health System Alliance of Arizona’s criticism regarding the mask mandate lift. 

“Arizona would not be in the position it is in right now without the combination of reduced business capacity, mask mandates, and social distancing requirements,” they wrote.

“Although we have made great progress to date, we are far from reaching herd immunity through immunization. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to slow down the spread of the virus as we increase vaccination distribution.”

Not only were hospitals defying Ducey’s orders, schools, small businesses, major corporations, and government-funded institutions are still enforcing masks on anyone who will be stepping on their premises. 

Agua Fria Union High School District tweeted out on their Agua Fria Athletics and Students Services page moments after Ducey’s announcement: “Gov. Ducey’s recent announcement to lift Covid-19 restrictions doesn’t apply to public schools. The AFUHSD will still mandate masks and continue to implement all mitigation protocols. This includes staff, students, and guests.” 

Many school districts in the Valley came out with similar statements, enforcing masks on their students, teachers, staff, and any visitors.

Even the colleges and universities such as University of Arizona and Arizona State came out with statements also asking students, teachers, staff, and visitors to be considerate og each other’s health and continue to mask up. 

Many Arizona government officials are calling Ducey out for his ignorance. 

In Tucson, Democratic Mayor Regina Romero said she had “no intention of removing our local mask-wearing requirement,” according to AZ Central. 

She said in a statement, “It is unfortunate that Gov. Ducey is caving to political pressure from the far right instead of following the science and doing what’s best for Arizonans.”

Phoenix Democratic Mayor Kate Gallego also disputed Ducey for disregarding “the best advice of scientists and health professionals,” and criticized the governor’s office for failing to alert the city that the change was coming.

She suggested Phoenix may challenge Ducey’s order, saying officials were open to “any legal option that protects Phoenix residents.”

However on the other side of the spectrum, Republicans are saying that Arizona is now “finally free.” 

Republican State Rep. Justin Wilmeth from Scottsdale applauded letting “businesses decide what’s best for their operations” and allowing “individuals to decide what is best for them.”

Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward simply tweeted, “Arizona is finally free!” 

Ducey’s lift was definitely not expected so soon but also not a surprise considering his fellow Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas  lifted his state’s mask mandate 2 weeks before Ducey.

At the end of the day, it’s honestly up to you if you want to wear the mask or not. It’s not like the government can enforce it anymore. 

But do consider who you are putting at risk of getting Covid and if you do decide that mask life isn’t for you, at least get the vaccine so you are somewhat protected as well as the people around you.