Mask mandate

Businesses would be exempt from the face mask mandates that public health experts have repeatedly touted over the past year in the fight against covid-19 under a bill approved by a legislative committee.

The House Commerce Committee on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to House Bill 2770, which would bar the state, counties and cities from forcing businesses to enforce mask mandates on their premises. The passed on a party-line vote, with the committee’s six Republicans voted for it and the four Democratic members voting against it.

Cities and counties across the state implemented mask requirements last summer after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted a restriction on local mandates as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. He has repeatedly resisted calls from some Democratic mayors and others to enact a statewide mandate, but Ducey has often noted that the overwhelming majority of Arizonans lived in areas with mandates.

The state does require mask use in some businesses, including restaurants.

Though businesses would be free to enforce the wearing of masks, they would be allowed to ignore such mandates under the measure, even if Ducey did relent and enact a statewide requirement via executive order.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joseph Chaplik, a Scottsdale Republican, said his legislation would simply restore freedom and liberty.

“If you choose to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you don’t want to and go into a place of business, we should not be making those business owners be law enforcement of a mandate,” Chaplik said.

The bill has broad GOP support: 21 of Chaplik’s 30 Republican colleagues co-sponsored the bill. In a press statement, Chaplik said he’s heard from many people who feel their “liberties are being stolen and being ordered to cover up their faces even when they are healthy,” and that business owners have been forced to become “mask police,” which has sometimes caused heated confrontations with customers.

Chaplik told the committee that he’s received hundreds of emails supporting his bill, which he said far outnumber the emails opposing it. He read comments from several of those supporters, who referred to mask mandates as “government overreach” and an “unscientific health mandate,” and said “countless studies” have shown masks to be ineffective in preventing the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

However, those statements are overwhelmingly contradicted by health officials across the country. Masks are effective primarily in preventing people with COVID from emitting droplets containing the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC recommends face masks for all activities outside the home and recently began urging people to wear cloth masks over surgical masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has suggested that a nationwide mask mandate may be needed to combat the pandemic.

Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, has also touted the effectiveness of face masks, as has Ducey and numerous other public health officials and private health care providers in Arizona. Many public health experts credited local mask mandates with helping to curb the spike in COVID-19 cases over the summer in Arizona, which faced one of the worst outbreaks in the United States at the time.

Researchers at the CDC recently found that 59% of all COVID-19 cases are transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.

Several Democrats on the House Commerce Committee took umbrage with the bill. Rep. Robert Meza, D-Phoenix, noted that two of his cousins died of the coronavirus, while Rep. Charlene Fernandez reminded the committee that her hometown of Yuma experienced one of the worst outbreaks in the state.

“We are wearing our masks. We are … trying to be safe. And I really resent that this bill is being put forward today,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez also told the committee that 640 people signed into the legislature’s public comment system as opposed to the bill, compared to 218 who signed in as supporters.

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, who has a long background in public health, praised the mayors who enacted mask mandates last year.

“Masks save lives. And the vaccine will save lives. Social distancing saves lives,” she said.

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(18) comments

1502

When you see the dentist tell him to take his mask off. Don’t be stupid.

Yup

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DFLHC

"Researchers at the CDC recently found that 59% of all COVID-19 cases are transmitted by asymptomatic carriers." - this is probably the disconnect that people just don't get. This means that 59% of the COVID cases are due to people who do not appear to be sick - they have no symptoms and the virus does not affect them (today, there is no long term data yet). So, you could be one of these people, have the virus, and spread it to other people (potentially killing them) without ever knowing that you have the virus.

chefcrsh

MUH FREEEDUMBSSSS!!!!!

hvnfun

Yep party of deniers, trump won, no climate change, COVID is a democratic hoax, trump won't golf, trump doesn't lie, we didn't spend $100 million at trump resorts, trump didn't incite attack on capitol, all faux news. Hope every business who doesn't enforce the mask requirement post a sign on their window so we know what moron's to avoid.

Too old for this

If masks work, why do we need to social distance? If social distance works, why do we need to wear masks? Fauci is not the only scientist, or epidemiologist, in the world, and there are a lot of opinions out there differing from his. At one point, Fauci recommended we all wear goggles as they eyes are mucus membranes and the virus could attack through them. Did you wear goggles?

DFLHC

Seriously? Pre-pandemic you would have had a fit if you had gone in for surgery and nobody in the OR was a wearing a mask. Masks have been used for thousands of years to prevent plagues from spreading, and guess what?... they still work today. There is not a single real scientist on this planet that says masks do not work. An airborne virus can be transmitted via a soft tissue opening in your body (eyes, nose, mouth). This is precisely why social distancing is necessary... to keep people far enough apart that the virus will dissipate and die before contact. Do people not actually spend 2 seconds to think about the reality of what is going on? You can't smoke in public because it affects people as well, using the same airborne means. Think about it.

shutthefrontdoor

"Lots of opinions out there", want the real scoop?, check with Marjorie Taylor Greene![rolleyes]

shutthefrontdoor

Not old enuff! Put away your Fisher-Price Medical play kit! You question the CDC precautions like you are an expert but more like that idiot Dr. Scott Atlas, the radiologist, that was hired to lead COVID-45's virus response team! He touted the "herd immunity" philosophy and was just another clown in the past administrations 3 ring circus. Best read Dr. Fauci's comments again before opening mouth and changing feet! While you are at it take another look at his resume, you may just learn something!

BigBob

Why do Republicans hate the American people? With these morns running loose it's no wonder we lead the world in COVID deaths!

ylstiv

What's a morn?

NorthLong

That's how a moron spells moron.

shutthefrontdoor

A "morn" is just 2 mikes south of "yistiv"![beam]

shutthefrontdoor

. . . . and just east of Yup![smile]

Yup

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Too old for this

The Republicans ARE the American people. They just hate you and those like you who are afraid to think for themselves and are happy to spend other peoples money supporting crappy government programs. It is you who is the "morn!"

ylstiv

No hate here for Dems. Just frustration with the "swampers" for whom the status quo is just fine.

Yup

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