Sedonans to wear face masks in public places



July 3, 2020

about-sedona-banner-image-red-rock-patriotLast week’s emergency proclamation requiring most Sedonans to wear face masks in public places is an important step in slowing the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Mayor Moriarty, with the support of a majority of the City Council, made the right call in issuing the proclamation, although opponents of masks, several of whom spoke at the June 23 meeting, spoke from the heart about everything from the Constitution to being unconvinced that masks make a difference.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the virus is spreading most quickly in the most heavily populated areas of our state, driving up hospitalizations. Many hospitals are nearing maximum ICU capacity. Yavapai County’s cases, while low, are also rising. Our positive test results are still among the lowest in the state, but that percentage is also trending upwards.

I think we all recognize that being required to wear a mask is an intrusion and represents a loss of freedom in how we respond to the emergency. However, the Mayor and Council recognize we must act to protect ourselves and others, and masks have the support of the WHO, the CDC, Arizona DHS and many other health agencies.

The virus has been here for months and is still active in Sedona. You may remember a convenience store employee tested positive back in March. A local restaurant recently closed due to staff members testing positive. This week, we closed our Visitor Center for cleaning and directed many staff and volunteers to be tested after a staffer picked up COVID-19 during a visit to Phoenix.

Sedona joins 50 other Arizona cities and counties with either a requirement or recommendation for the use of masks, including Scottsdale, Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale, Phoenix, Tucson and Tempe as well as the counties of Maricopa, Pima and Coconino, among others.  Each jurisdiction has exemptions for medical and other reasons, just as Sedona does.

Most Sedona businesses appear supportive.  An internet survey sent to Chamber members before last week’s Council meeting showed 65% agree that employees should wear masks when dealing with the public. 60% of businesses think everyone should be required to wear masks when shopping. Just 36% thought “city or county governments should not mandate masks for anyone at any time.”

As we welcome our first post-shutdown 4th of July weekend, the City/Chamber Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready campaign has hundreds of posters up at businesses citywide urging residents and visitors to be safe, clean and ready to interact safely – wear masks, social distance, wash hands.

The Mayor and Council are acting in the best interests of Sedona’s health while not infringing needlessly on personal freedoms. Though controversial, a mask mandate – for all its inconvenience and intrusion – is a sensible step in slowing the contagion.

The Mayor said it best: “Whether you agree or disagree with this direction, let’s be kind to each other.  Because that’s the Sedona way.”

As we celebrate the fight for independence this Fourth of July weekend, we are once again in a battle together. Please wear a mask in public, social distance and wash your hands.  As we do in any battle, let’s stay united, supporting each other and our leaders.

                                                                                                  –Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO