Town hall slated over mask mandate for Mohave County buildings
KINGMAN – Based on the number of comments Mohave County received via social media platforms concerning the mask mandate in county buildings, Supervisor Gary Watson of District 1 called for a town hall or a public workshop in place of the previously scheduled board of supervisors meeting at noon on Thursday, Oct. 22. The location will be the same – the county administration building, 700 W. Beale St.
“That would give the public an opportunity to address the board regarding the mask mandate” put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, Watson told the board on Thursday, Oct. 15.
He reminded the audience that the county does not require face covering in businesses in the unincorporated parts of the county. It only requires masks in county buildings, Watson said, “to protect our people, who provide essential services to the public.”
But Supervisor Hildy Angius said the town hall is “almost past time,” and noted the county never asked employees if they wanted to wear face coverings.
“It’s time to get rid of the mask mandate in the building,” she said and made a motion that failed 3-2, supported only by Supervisor Ron Gould of District 5, who observed that there are only 49 seats available in the auditorium with the current COVID-19 safety measures, which hardly creates enough space for a proper town hall.
Chairwoman Jean Bishop that rotating the public in and out would resolve that problem.
Angius reminded her colleagues that there is a special meeting with the Arizona legislative delegation at the county building on Monday, Oct. 19.
“I assure you that some of those people that are coming will not wear masks,” she said, asking if the county will not let in its own state representatives. “It’s going to be an issue,” she said.
A town hall will face the same obstacles, and Watson and County Manager Sam Elters admitted there are questions regarding the workshop. The county is able to provide face shields for those who cannot wear face masks and perhaps will allow some individuals to speak from a distance of 6 feet.
Angius said she cannot attend a meeting on Oct. 22 because she will be in Phoenix. The town hall was approved nonetheless with a 4-1 vote.
In a joking exchange with Bishop and Watson, Angius said that indeed, next Thursday she will be asking Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to rescind his declaration of emergency, and will confront him about face masks.
Mohave County Director of Public Health Denise Burley was present at the meeting, and made a case for face coverings that she said, along with social distancing, have kept Mohave County COVID-19 numbers down in recent months.
Angius said the county’s low numbers should not be attributed to face masks, since both Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City called off their mandates.
“It’s the population density,” said Gould about the COVID-19 numbers.
While still not meeting the minimum benchmarks set by the Arizona Department of Health Services, Mohave County remains in the moderate range, Burley said.
The part the county is still struggling with is the number of cases per 100,000 individuals, Burley said.
“It’s a roller-coaster,” she said, but fortunately with less intense ups and downs than in previous months.
To get to the minimal category, Burley said, the county should record not more than 22 cases per week for two consecutive weeks.