Bad-actor states and cities that refuse to enact mask mandates to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 should not receive money from Congress in future relief legislation, Rep. Greg Stanton said today.
One of the most effective ways for local governments to control the spread of the virus is to require residents to wear masks in public places. Research and public health data show communities with mask mandates saw drops in their transmission rates and COVID-19 cases.
But because some local leaders – including Arizona’s governor – have refused to acknowledge and embrace the most basic science and enact statewide mask mandates, Congress must provide an economic incentive so that more states will adopt common-sense policies, Stanton said.
“Some officials have made this pandemic worse by refusing to accept basic science, and their increasingly poor decision-making is killing people, overwhelming hospitals, costing jobs, and will soon put more people on the streets,” said Stanton. “They’ve used federal funds to bail out their own budgets rather than invest in the testing, contact tracing, unemployment support and rental assistance our economy needs.”
“Congress has a responsibility to put resources in the hands of those who are taking this crisis seriously and these bad actors can’t be trusted,” Stanton said.
When Arizona’s cases spiked 151 percent in June, Stanton released a five-step plan to control the virus’ spread and was the first federal official to call for a statewide mask mandate.
Following Stanton’s call to action and pressure from local leaders that followed his call, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order that rescinded his preemption of cities to implement local health measures, and allowed them to enact mask mandates. Cases then dropped 75 percent across the state over the next few weeks.
An October report authored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and members of the Arizona Department of Health Services, including director Dr. Cara Christ, found that mask mandates were effective in controlling and decreasing the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona.
Researchers found similar results in 15 other states and Washington D.C., and as cases rose across the country in late October, 11 of the 15 states with the highest case totals that month did not have a mask mandate in place. Three of those states have since enacted mask mandates.
But as the nation experiences a second wave of COVID cases, Ducey has held steadfast in refusing to adopt the science-backed measure. There is a significant lack of testing and contact tracing resources in Arizona, and positivity rates have climbed to alarming numbers.
In Arizona, counties and localities that introduced mask mandates have recorded lower case totals and infection rates than those that did not.