Safford Council vote against supporting mask regulation has no bearing against BOS action

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

SAFFORD – To clear things up for the populace, the Safford City Council’s decision to not support a mask regulation previously approved by the Graham County Board of Supervisors does absolutely nothing to curtail the BOS’ action.

The mask regulation unanimously adopted by the BOS at its Nov. 25 meeting requires all persons ages 6 and over in incorporated and unincorporated Graham County who do not qualify for an exemption to wear a “face covering” while inside the enclosed area of any place of public accommodation.

Previously, the town councils of Pima and Thatcher, and the Graham County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors all unanimously passed resolutions approving letters requesting the BOS pass a mask regulation. Those votes came on the heels of the Graham County Department of Health and Human Services and Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center requesting the BOS pass the mask regulation as well.

On Monday, the Safford City Council voted 5-2 against supporting the BOS’s resolution. Vice-Mayor Richard Ortega and newly installed council member Brad Hemphill voted in the minority in favor of supporting the mask regulation.  

However, that resolution does nothing to stop the regulation from being required to adhere to while inside Safford city limits. Again, the regulation is countywide and is required in all areas throughout the county.

On the very same day Safford voted against its support, the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center issued a statement thanking the towns of Pima and Thatcher for supporting the regulation and the BOS for unanimously passing it.

“At the time of this statement’s issue, MGRMC is at full bed capacity,” the statement issued by MGRMC read. “Again, these numbers are unprecedented. If trends do not change, our hospital will be unable to meet the capacity needs of our community.”

“Recognizing this reality, MGRMC joined with county health officials last week in advocating for a mask regulation in the hopes that greater mask-wearing compliance in our community would ease the spike we are currently experiencing. The coming days will inform all of us as to the effectiveness of this effort.”

“Hospital administration and staff recognize the strong feelings and beliefs that surround a mask regulation. The hospital’s support of a mask regulation is not politically motivated but rather is rooted strictly in a desire to reduce capacity demands on our hospital, provide the care our community requires, and provide mental and physical relief to a healthcare staff that is being stretched to its limits. For these reasons, we once again express our gratitude to the elected officials who bravely came to our aid by passing this regulation.”

The mask mandate for Graham County is in effect at least through Jan. 4, 2021, when the board will have its first regularly scheduled meeting in January. Unless the BOS chooses to renew it at that time, the mandate will expire at midnight.

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