Pima County proposes new mask mandate
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County is preparing to reimpose a mask mandate as cases of the omicron variant increase nationwide and after the first case has been found here.
According to county health officials, the omicron variant will likely be the predominate strain here within four to six weeks. The first case was found in a test that was sequenced the first of December, meaning its been spreading for weeks.
The omicron variant is more transmissible than the alpha and delta variants which have caused widespread outbreaks.
The mandate being considered by the Pima County Board of Supervisors in conversations with the health department, is not the same as the one which was lifted in May.
“We’re taking out pretty much all of the enforcement stuff,” said Dr. Matt Heinz, the District 2 Supervisor. “We’re not in the business of trying to embarrass the Circle K on 22nd and Tucson Blvd.”
In the last iteration of the mask mandate, the county board has strict requirements and a website which publicly named businesses which violated the mandate.
“We’re not doing the wall of shame sort of the website thing,” he said. “We’re not doing any of that.”
The county will be handing out vinyl placards to remind people and businesses that face masks are required in all indoor locations where social distancing is not possible.
“We’re not going to send goon squads around to arrest people,” he said. “We’re doing this is a reasonable and measured way.”
And this time, the mandate will not be in perpetuity, it will sunset.
“The way this is written was to automatically sunset once we’re through some of the higher transmission times,” Heinz said. “Once we’re past that we want the board to come back in a public setting to talk with health officials and discuss do we continue this or do we let it stop,”
Heinz believes it will likely be February when the discussion to it or continue it will be held.
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