SIERRA VISTA — Don’t lower that face mask. The reinstated Sierra Vista mask mandate could be in place until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, the mayor said earlier this week.
City officials are bracing for the possibility that some officers in the police department’s patrol division could be the next employees struck by the virus.
At a City Council work session Tuesday, Mayor Rick Mueller said the mask mandate is staying put for a while longer.
“I’ll probably really not look at seriously removing it until such time as we get though Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, New Year’s and hopefully the availability of a good vaccine,” Mueller said. “And that’s kind of where we stand on the mask order.”
The mask order was reinstated last week after a rise in virus cases in both Cochise County and Sierra Vista. The original emergency declaration took effect June 27 and was suspended Sept. 18, based on the declining number of COVID-19 cases. The order was never rescinded so that it could be reinstated, city officials said.
Before the mayor mentioned how long the mandate could be in place, City Manager Chuck Potucek informed the City Council there were positive results of COVID-19 in the Sierra Vista Police Department, primarily among sworn personnel who work in the agency’s Special Operations units.
While Potucek said the patrol division has not been affected thus far, he couched it with: “We expect to see some more patrol issues, but the chief assures me he has the scheduling worked out for patrols.”
Officers who have been hit by the virus have been in quarantine and some are expected to return to work next week, Potucek said.
The city manager also said city buildings will remain closed for the time being. He mentioned that the onset of a vaccine would be “a light at the end of the tunnel.”
The reinstated mask mandate, meanwhile, requires face coverings or shields while in public when physical distancing of at least six feet is not possible. No one younger than 10 is required to wear one, however.
They are also not required when a person is at a commercial establishment for the purposes of eating, drinking or sleeping; when exercising outdoors alone or with people a person lives with, or while using public sports or practice fields; while swimming; and in workspaces not open to the public.
Also, masks are not required for any person who cannot wear one because of a medical condition, mental health condition or developmental disability, or who is unable to remove the face covering without assistance; and in an emergency situation in which the wearing of a face covering is not feasible, city officials said.