PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey announced during a news conference Wednesday that local governments now have the ability, if they so choose, to mandate masks in their cities.
Watch video from that press conference in the player below
The move comes as healthcare workers and many city leaders across the state called for the governor to make it a statewide requirement to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Ducey said during the press conference that the amount of positive cases and the percentage of positive cases per test varies greatly by city and county across the state. Therefore, he says he is choosing to leave it up to local governments whether or not to mandate masks.
Ducey did not clarify how exactly each local government could implement a mandate on masks, but Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego tweeted that the Phoenix City Council would vote on a mandate on the upcoming agenda.
3/3 On our next agenda, Phoenix City Council will vote to mandate face masks for residents going to essential businesses and in public spaces. I fully support this measure. We will only overcome this virus by working together. #MaskUpAZ— Mayor Kate Gallego (@MayorGallego) June 17, 2020
When asked about how the use of masks would be enforced, Ducey said that would be left up to the mayors to decide.
Gov. @dougducey said “serious changes” need to be made and “there will be enforcement.” In addition to allowing local governments to mandate mask use, @azdhs will provide new health safety guidance for businesses. @abc15 pic.twitter.com/3Mv5oKySRA— Melissa Blasius (@MelissaBlasius) June 17, 2020
Ducey also announced during the press conference that 300 National Guard members will be called upon to help with contact tracing across the state.
Ducey initially addressed masks in a Wednesday morning tweet, saying, "Protect yourself. Protect others. Help contain the spread of #COVID19. Wear a mask. #MaskUpAZ."
A spokesman for the governor has said, "addressing COVID-19 remains our highest priority. Everyone should wear a face covering when out in public and continue to follow public health guidelines."
The push to wear masks in public comes as Arizona continues to see a rapid increase in cases, including a record number of additional cases in a 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday.