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Wed, June 03

Croft: No face mask requirements as Chino Valley reopens
Tri-city mayors cautiously optimistic regarding phased-in reopening

Customers waiting to get into the Prescott Costco on Saturday, May 9, 2020, all wear face masks — a new requirement by the warehouse retailer this past week. Mayors from the tri-city area told the Chino Valley Review they do not plan to institute similar requirements as area businesses and government offices gradually reopen. (Brian Haddad/For the Courier)

Customers waiting to get into the Prescott Costco on Saturday, May 9, 2020, all wear face masks — a new requirement by the warehouse retailer this past week. Mayors from the tri-city area told the Chino Valley Review they do not plan to institute similar requirements as area businesses and government offices gradually reopen. (Brian Haddad/For the Courier)

Mayor Darryl Croft’s views on face coverings and reopening Chino Valley’s economy are similar to his Prescott and Prescott Valley counterparts: face masks will be left to the individual.

As the local municipalities gradually reopen while coronavirus (COVID-19) cautionary measures fade, wearing a face mask will be left to personal choice.

“I’m leaving it up to the people, the citizens to wear face masks. There’s no way you can enforce that anyway,” he said.

Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli said: “The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) made that suggestion (for masks). It’s just a suggestion.”

After consulting with Yavapai County Community Health Service Director Leslie Horton, Mengarelli said the city chose not to make it a requirement at City Hall. He added that city facilities will take the stance: “If people wear masks, we’ll respect that, and if they don’t wear masks, we’ll respect that.”

Meanwhile, Prescott will be installing new plastic sneeze guards at the Community Development Department. Barriers are already in place at the city’s billing department.

Likewise, Prescott Valley Mayor Kell Palguta said, “No, we will not be issuing a proclamation or order requiring residents to wear masks.

“If a person chooses to do (this) for their own safety, that is entirely up to them. We are still a free country and have control over our own lives and decisions. We ask people to just be respectful to each other no matter what they choose to do.”

ECONOMY

At the same time, all three are cautiously optimistic regarding the phased-in reopening and Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home orders going away between now and May 15, and how it all has affected the local economy.

“Some sectors (of the economy) are doing really well,” Mengarelli said. “RV dealers have done tremendously well, and car dealers really have rebounded. Obviously, grocery stores have done well.”

Referring to other sectors that have been required to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as non-essential retail stores and restaurant dining, Mengarelli said, “I’ve heard from retailers and restaurants that most are on their last leg. I’m grateful for the governor’s updated executive order that will allow them to re-open.”

Arizona State University economists say the state’s economic slide due to the coronavirus pandemic will last for months but will be followed by a rebound that results in a recovery by early 2021, according to The Associated Press.

The closures to businesses and schools has certainly affected residents of Prescott Valley, Palguta said, both economically as well as mentally and physically.

“The true effects will not be known for months until we can start reviewing the sales-tax revenue,” he said. “We have already seen rises in domestic violence, drug overdoses and alcohol sales, which I can certainly contribute to the closures and (Ducey’s) stay-at-home order.

“We need to be strong for ourselves and each other during these times in order to be successful. We as a country have always conquered adversity, and this no different.”

For Croft, Chino Valley is “looking at the town budget, and the revenue that’s coming in right now is OK. But two or three months down the road, we’re really going to be reduced because this thing carries over for several months.

“So, it’s really affected the town. We have stopped spending on anything travel, training and on all those things so we can back off and we don’t overspend the money that we have.”

REOPENING

Still, all three said this past week they see it as safe to reopen – sort of.

“I think we can safely reopen but the problem is we haven’t tested enough people to know exactly what we have here,” Croft said. “Unless we test everyone, then we don’t know who is and who isn’t infected, who doesn’t have the symptoms, who is not carrying it around and not infecting anyone. I think we’re still out there kind of guessing what you can and cannot do because we don’t really know.”

Palguta said that “I absolutely believe Prescott Valley and the Quad Cities can (re)open safely. We as a community are already taking steps to mitigate the risk of exposure and will continue to make modifications.

“As I mentioned earlier, staying home is having more of a lasting and detrimental effect on a lot of our citizens. By living in fear of tomorrow or the next day, (this) prevents us all from living our life today. We take risks every time we leave our house, and the current conditions of COVID(-19) should not alter our lives so much that we become prisoners of our own fears.”

He said local grocery store workers have been on the front lines of exposure since the beginning and “we have not experienced large spikes of positive testing among them, so it gives me solitude that as we ease back into our normal, everyday lives, we will continue to see that we will be OK and get through this.”

For Prescott, “I looked at the percent positive from the testing (of about 4.5%),” Mengarelli said, maintaining that the percentage of positive cases is low in Yavapai County, as is the fatality rate.

Moving forward, Mengarelli said, “We’re going to quarantine the sick; we’re not going to quarantine the healthy.”

Overall, he said, “I don’t have any reservations about moving forward” with the reopening.

Prescott News Network reporters Cindy Barks, Aaron Valdez and Doug Cook contributed to this article.

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