After action Wednesday by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey giving local governments the power to determine if masks must be worn, the Yuma County Board of Supervisors Thursday issued a proclamation requiring them to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the county.
In the proclamation, the Board declared an emergency in unincorporated areas to address the virus.
The proclamation states, any person over two years old in any place open to the public, indoors or outdoors, who can’t maintain a distance of about six feet from all people nearby, shall wear a facemask covering their nose and mouth, unless exempted medically or by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Yuma County Supervisor Board Chairman Tony Reyes says this order has been a long time coming.
"The idea of mandating the wearing of masks is something that we've been asking for the authority to do for the last month or two," Reyes told KAWC. "But it's become even more critical as you see the numbers in Yuma County just increase dramatically."
Even so, Reyes says that does not mean there will be any kind of “Mask Police” for enforcement. "The intent is not to hurt or to make it a custody situation," he said. "The intent is to sort of guide and be a little more strict about the enforcement of wearing a mask."
The cities of San Luis and Somerton have already approved mask requirements. The City of Yuma is to take up the issue in a special meeting Friday at 2 p.m.
Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said his office was not informed of the proclamation and does not have the resources to respond to calls for enforcement action.
KAWC staff contributed to this report.