WHITE MOUNTAINS — The majority of towns, cities and unincorporated areas in Apache and Navajo counties aren’t mandating that their residents wear masks or face coverings while in public.

People wearing masks- stylized

Cities and towns without a mask or face covering mandate, as of Thursday, June 25 include: Alpine, Apache County, Concho, Heber-Overgaard, Holbrook, Show Low, Snowflake-Taylor, Springerville-Eagar, St. Johns and Vernon.

There are a few exceptions and they include Payson, Pinetop-Lakeside, Winslow, the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).

Earlier this week, the White Mountain Apache Tribe and Pinetop-Lakeside issued proclamations or mandates requiring residents to wear masks when in public.

Mask mandates and COVID-19 cases numbers

The city of Winslow had required its residents to wear makes in public “when social distancing was not possible”. The city council then made a formal proclamation that considered public input via their Wednesday, June 23 council meeting.

Payson’s Mayor and acting town manager, Sheila DeSchaaf, issued an emergency proclamation on June 18 stating, “all people who are in a public setting must cover their nose and mouth with a fabric or mask.”

Shopping with a mask

Many towns and cities in Navajo County have issued press releases strongly encouraging residents to follow the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services (AzDHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDS) guidelines with regarding to hygiene, hand-washing, social distancing and wearing a mask when in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Apache County supports and recommends that residents follow AzDHS and CDC guidelines. Only the Town of Eagar in Apache County had issued a public statement on the matter in which they stated they were not requiring masks at this time.

Navajo and Apache Counties remain a national hotspots for the respiratory virus, with case rates and death rates three or four times the national and state average.

The Navajo Nation remains the epicenter of the pandemic in the region and continues to continues to enforce the use of protective masks in public and 57-hour weekend lockdown orders from 8 p.m. on Friday nights to 5 a.m. on Monday mornings.

WMAT Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood implemented mandatory mask-wearing and implemented a Shelter-in-Place order and instituted a 57-hour weekend lockdown beginning at 8 p.m. this Friday, June 26. In addition, the use of alcohol or those found using or selling illegal drugs could face severe penalties, fines and the loss of Tribal membership benefits for one year.

Some towns and cities in the White Mountains are planning to address the issue in a formal setting such as their upcoming city or town council meetings.

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Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

(11) comments


Show Low should require masks too!






From the U.S. Department of Labor website (OSHA):

Cloth face coverings:◾Are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE).

◾Will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration.

◾Are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (e.g., N95 respirators) or medical face masks (e.g., surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or face masks are recommended or required to protect the wearer

Surgical masks:◾Will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration



The Concho Cowboy

Wow johndoe you can quote government regulations about job safety, now show me where cloth masks offer no protection. No one said they were perfect, we need to keep the N95s for first responders and healthcare professionals.

What you're not including in quoting OSHA, funny that you suddenly like regulation, cloth masks are semi-effective, it's better than nothing. Seat belts won't save you 100% of the time but the government says we have to wear them when driving, oh wait that only protects you so you have no problem with it.


remember in the beginning they told us heat kills the virus? Now Arizona is the hotspot in the country? Pretty easy to see the real agenda!!!


They also said when there were 15 cases nationwide, that it would magically disappear.


Look up this article "nurses, doctors feel strain as virus races through arizons" then go get a mask


"Growing up I was taught that there were three things you don’t talk about at the dinner table - religion, politics, and money. So I tend to treat my Facebook page the same way.

But I feel a responsibility to speak out on the issue of mask wearing. To me, there shouldn’t be anything political about mask wearing in the face of coronavirus. And yet somehow, almost inexplicably to me, now there is.

I hear folks talk about rights - that mask wearing is infringing on personal liberty. No doubt, that’s one of the things that makes this country great, that each person has the right to decide how they want to live their lives, and what risks they want to take. Go skydiving? Cliff jumping? Protest? Write controversial or risqué opinions? Have at it - our constitution protects you. It’s amazing. You can say what you want, do what you want, even put yourself in harms way if you want.

But what you DON’T get to do is put OTHERS in harms way. This is one of the hallmarks of civilized society, the “law and order” that some are speaking of. For example - many people who drive drunk don’t end up killing other innocent people. But some do. Therefore, driving drunk, which puts others in harms way, is illegal - even if you don’t personally kill anyone while out driving intoxicated.

Not wearing a mask, while not knowing if you are infected with coronavirus, is effectively the same thing. And since nobody knows if they have coronavirus, we are all potentially deadly - in the same way a drunk driver is. If not to ourselves, then to others.

Masks are also not specific to coronavirus. For example, when construction workers go on a job site with asbestos, they wear masks. What about hard hats? These things are required - even though most workers don’t get killed by falling objects. As best as I can tell, there aren’t any rights being infringed on by requiring safety measures.

I used to fly a lot, before the pandemic. I would see folks from Asian countries wearing masks on airplanes. I didn’t get it, I thought it looked so odd. But they were just ahead of the curve, having been scared by SARS. And look how it’s going over there, where mask wearing already became part of the culture - South Korea, Japan. And then here, where mask wearing while facing a deadly virus has become a flash point of political controversy.

So I implore folks, if not for yourselves, but for others, to wear a mask until we come up with a solution for this thing. Even if you believe that there’s some conspiracy afoot, or the virus was created in a lab, none of it matters. Because as long as it’s believed that the virus can be deadly, at least to some of us - and that seems to be near universally accepted - then you might as well be that drunk driver taking a chance not just with your life but with the lives of others, not to be wearing one."

- Eric Barnett



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