Arizona mayor says town will move forward with summer events, won't require masks
The mayor of an eastern Arizona town says he has no plans to cancel a slew of upcoming summer events or require masks, even as COVID-19 cases soar throughout the state.
Eagar Mayor Bryce Hamblin said in a statement Thursday that the town's upcoming Fourth of July parade will continue as planned and residents will not be required to wear masks.
"Over the past several weeks, I have been asked repeatedly what the Town of Eagar plans to do about COVID-19, masks, visitors, riots, etc. It is somewhat alarming how many expect and almost invite a more drastic infringement on their freedoms," Hamblin said in the statement. "My response from the onset of COVID-19 pandemic has been that we will err on the side of freedom."
Since COVID-19 cases have continued to increase in Arizona, Maricopa County and cities throughout the state have mandated masks in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also state everyone should wear a mask when out in public.
But Hamblin said in his statement that he does not believe the government has the authority to order people to wear masks. Instead, he encourages people who feel sick to not attend the town's events or take precautions by wearing masks and gloves if they are afraid of contracting COVID-19.
"Those precautions do not harm me and I will not judge you adversely for doing what you feel is best for you. But don't ask that the government require it of healthy, law-abiding citizens," Hamblin said in the statement.
The town of approximately 5,000 is located in eastern Arizona's Apache County, bordering New Mexico. The county has reported approximately 2,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Up to 10 cases have been reported in Eagar, but the neighboring city of Show Low reported nearly 150 confirmed cases.
Hamblin said he does not think the virus is fake and that it "has drastic negative effects on the health of some of the individuals that contract it," but continued to say that the U.S. is having its first "political pandemic."
"... Never before has our government been more eager and willing to take away freedoms from the citizenry. Never before has the citizenry been more willing to give them up," said Hamblin in the statement.
"History will not judge us kindly for our actions over the past several months," Hamblin added.
"Take charge of your own life. Nobody owes you anything. The government has never been more ill-equipped to solve your problems nor is it its function to do so. This is America. Stand up and be somebody. Be brave and live free," Hamblin said in the statement.
Neither Hamblin, the city manager or any other city official responded to a request for comment from The Arizona Republic.