Face masks still required throughout Pima County, Health Department and County Attorney say

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Pima County

Masks still required throughout Pima County, Health Department and County Attorney say

PIMA COUNTY, March 30, 2021 – The Pima County Attorney’s Office, in a March 26 letter to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, says Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey does not have to legal authority to prevent the County Health Department from enacting reasonable public health measures.

Therefore, according to Deputy County Attorney Jonathan Pinkney, Resolution 2020-96 passed by the Board of Supervisors Dec. 4 is still in effect. The Resolution mandates everyone in Pima County over the age of 5 must wear a face mask over their nose and mouth, unless they have a qualifying exemption or are able to maintain physical distance.

Therefore, in consultation with the County Administrator and with Chief Medical Officer and Deputy County Attorney Dr. Francisco Garcia, County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen has instructed her health inspectors to continue to enforce the mask mandate at establishments regulated by the Health Department, which are primarily any establishment preparing or serving food. County Health Department inspectors have authority throughout the County.

Furthermore, the County Administrator emphasizes that any establishment in the County, irrespective of Health Department regulation, that is found to be violating the Resolution risks fines of $500 per infraction, and potentially suspension or revocation of its operating permits.

“This pandemic is not over. There are still hundreds of thousands of people in Pima County who are not vaccinated and who remain at risk for serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19,” Dr. Garcia said. “The best protection they have until they get vaccinated is for everyone to continue to wear their masks.”

Dr. Cullen said the number of vaccinations is accelerating and the news of up to 300,000 more doses coming to the County from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will greatly add to the speed. But she cautions that it still won’t be until early summer before the County approaches the threshold believed necessary to achieve so-called herd immunity, where enough people are vaccinated that community spread of the virus becomes mathematically improbable.

“We need between 700,000 and 800,000 people to get vaccinated. We need people to choose to get vaccinated at rates high enough to achieve herd immunity quickly,” Dr. Cullen said. “If we want to stop wearing masks, we need to stop community spread of COVID-19. And we can’t stop community spread of COVID until we get to herd immunity. So, if you want to stop having to wear a mask, go get your shot.”