MARICOPA — The Maricopa City Council logged onto Facebook Live on Friday evening to live stream an address to the community members and business owners about COVID-19.
Until this point, things have slowly been shutting down with the implementation of Mayor Christian Price’s “Fifteen Days to Make a Difference” plan that was sent out via email earlier last week.
Price began his speech with a recognition of the amount of feedback he has been receiving from concerned community members on different sides of the issue, those local business owners losing profits due to closures, and community members worried about the health of their families should the city continue working/going out in public.
“There’s been a little bit of confusion. A lot of people believe that everything should be shut down entirely, and I understand that. We understand that, the city understands that, but there is a reason and rationale by which we have not done that,” Price said. “I have people that contact me every day that say ‘We should shut everything down and everybody should be locked down in their homes.’ I also have people that contact me every day and say, ‘Why are we doing this? This isn’t here. There is no reason for this, this is government overreach.’ … We want to do something that is best for everybody.”
Up until Friday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey had merely made recommendations for shutdown of certain businesses in the state. Dissimilarly, several states have ordered a mandatory shutdown and all residents to shelter in place including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York.
Price explained that his reasoning for continuing to allow business to operate is due to the number of local small-business owners nearing collapse due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“There are so many people in this city that have invested their life savings and now, through no fault of their own, they find themselves in complete dilapidation because the economy around them is crumbling,” Price said. “They are being forced into stopping their business ... this is a real challenge for them.”
On Friday, Price moved forward with announcing a state of emergency following Ducey’s orders to shut down all inside dining at businesses that are located in a county that has confirmed cases. Those restaurants affected still have the option of curbside pickup. As of press time Monday, Pinal County has 17 cases of COVID-19.
He briefly clarified that other cities declared a state of emergency due to legal limitations involving the closures of city hall and other public spaces, whereas Maricopa does not have those limitations and was able to implement those changes without declaring. Price then introduced a proclamation to declare a state of emergency.
“We’ve reached a time by which we’ve crossed from pure recommendation into mandate,” Price said. “Because of those mandates, we need to be able to align the recommendations of the City of Maricopa, and to do it in a fast and orderly fashion.”
As of Friday, all restaurants, movie theaters and gyms closed in the city with the exception of those restaurants offering curbside pickup or take out services. Grocery stores will remain open and will receive support from the National Guard to continue stocking shelves and selling necessary products.
The Maricopa Public Library will shutter; however some services such as family reading time will move online. Curbside pickup will also be available for books and movies from the library, sanitized and delivered directly to vehicles.
City Hall and Copper Sky Regional Park facilities will both close, with most staff on payroll working from home. The actual park will remain open. Concierge service will also be available for city needs at city hall — just call in and someone will come out to the vehicle.
“I want to leave you with this: We understand it’s a scary time, we understand there is a lot of fear. But I also want to leave you with the fact that, despite all this, we will come out of this,” Price said. “The sun will come up tomorrow. This too shall pass and, in the end, we have great things happening in this city.”
A Tuesday city council meeting was almost deserted, with only three community members in attendance due to the spread of COVID-19 and instructions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit groups to no more than 10.
The agenda was light, with many items being moved to later dates including a commendation to Mike Richey, former owner of Ace Hardware, and a women’s proclamation, both postponed to next month.
During the meeting, Price read out a city press release recently sent out via email to community members detailing the city’s plan to fight against the spread of COVID-19.
He also announced the cancellation of the next city council meeting schedule for April 7.
“It’s just to give us a little more time in between what’s transpiring here,” Price said. “City code says we need to have at least one meeting a month.”