South county mayors double down on calls for safeguards against COVID-19

San Luis Mayor Gerardo Sanchez (left)  and Somerton Mayor Gerardo Anaya appear together in a Facebook video appealing to residents to take steps to protect themselves against the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAN LUIS, Ariz. – Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases across Yuma County, the mayors of San Luis and Somerton are reminding south county residents not to drop their guard against the virus as businesses reopen and economic activity resumes.

“I congratulate the community of San Luis for taking precautions,” said San Luis Mayor Gerardo Sanchez. “I see that 85 or 90 percent of people are using masks. Taking care of ourselves is the only way this is going to stop.”

As he spoke Wednesday, Sanchez said the rate of infection in San Luis was slowing. Still, his city and Somerton accounted for 46 percent of that day’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases across Yuma County, 2,588.

With about half the population of San Luis, Somerton has recorded more than twice as many cases among its residents – 806 compared to 397.

“We keep insisting on educating the public but we see that the numbers are increasing,” Somerton Mayor Gerardo Anaya said.

He said fewer options for consumers in his city may be part of the reason for its higher rate of infection. “We are a small city,” he said. “If all of us go to a single market or a single post office, we can’t have social distancing as easily.”

Anaya said the city continues to encourage businesses to adhere to high sanitary standards to protect both their employees and customers.

He and Sanchez said they hope the gradual reopening of businesses allowed by state government is not sending a message that the coronavirus threat is diminishing.

Sanchez said a number of San Luis residents have called for fines for those who do not wear masks in the city.

“We can’t promulgate any (law that is) more stringent than what the state has,” Sanchez said. “But if businesses like Walmart decide they are going to make the use of masks obligatory for customers, we are going to support them. Using a mask is the simplest way to prevent getting infected.”

San Luis, like other cities, has closed municipal offices to the public. Sanchez said the San Luis officials are reviewing protocol for a gradual reopening of city offices at a still-undetermined date.

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