San Luis Mayor Gerardo Sanchez, along with Vice Mayor Maria Cecilia Cruz, on Wednesday evening signed a proclamation mandating face coverings in public spaces. The mandate went into effect immediately.
The chairman of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors had asked that a mask mandate be drafted and the Yuma mayor is evaluating recommendations on masks following an executive order from Gov. Ducey on Wednesday allowing cities and towns to adopt their own policies on the use of face coverings to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The San Luis mandate requires everyone in the city to wear a face covering while out in public places such as the post office, stores, restaurants, parks, etc. All face coverings must cover the person’s nose and mouth and must be fitted to the face, while allowing the user to breathe easily, according to a press release.
Children who are 2 years old or younger and people diagnosed with certain medical conditions are precluded from wearing masks.
“It is very alarming what is happening in Yuma County and in our city, it is time to do more,” Sanchez said. “As a resident we all must do our end to help flatten the curve. It is now up to us, San Luis. Wear a mask.”
City Administrator Tadeo A. De La Hoya witnessed the signing with support from Fire Chief Angel Ramirez and Police Lt. Marco Santana. The press release noted that San Luis continues to work with Yuma County Health Department, Yuma Regional Medical Center and state and federal agencies to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents.
“Due to the Governor’s Executive Order from today, we are evaluating recommendations on masks and any other safety measures,” Mayor Doug Nicholls said in a statement issued Wednesday night.
Nicholls said more information would come “after we have the chance to hear directly from our Yuma County Public Health Services District and Yuma’s medical providers.”
The mayor noted that it’s important to consult with health officials before determining whether to mandate the use of masks in public places.
“In leading our Yuma community to remain strong and safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve worked day by day since the beginning of March with public and private sector health and medical officials to safeguard the health of all people and sustain the hard-hit economy and jobs to the best of our ability,” Nicholls said.
“Yuma collaborates with and relies on expert medical guidance from the Yuma County Public Health Services District and state and federal health agencies when it comes to guidelines and safety standards. Cities and towns like ours in Arizona are not tasked with being the public health officials, but we use our leadership to emphasize their recommendations as strongly as possible. It is the right thing to do, and we will continue to do so,” he added.
Nicholls pointed out that the number of COVID-19 cases are up in Arizona in part due to increased testing.
County spokesman Kevin Tunell told the Yuma Sun that Tony Reyes, chairman of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors had asked County Attorney Jon Smith to draft a resolution mandating the use of face coverings.
However, Tunell said, he did not know on Wednesday whether the mandate would be only for the “county proper” and leave the cities and towns to do their own thing, or whether Reyes would request a joint resolution as the recent call to action in which local county and municipal leaders urged citizens to take responsibility in stopping the spread of the virus by following the measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include the use of face coverings and social distancing.
Tunell said that the resolution would probably be released on Thursday after the draft is written and it undergoes a legal review.
Tunell also pointed out that the order stresses that enforcement of any mask mandate needs to focus first on “educating and working to promote best practices to accomplish the goal of mitigation.”
The order indicates that “an individual shall be notified of the provisions of this order or any policy adopted by a county, city or town and given an opportunity to comply prior to any enforcement action being taken.”
As of Wednesday, Yuma County has 3,637 confirmed cases of COVID-19.