By Corinne Murdock |
Last Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council declared that COVID-19 no longer constitutes an emergency. The council passed the resolution quietly and without discussion, lumping it in with dozens of other agenda items.
It has been two years and eight months since the city first declared COVID-19 as an emergency. Yet, the issue that instigated controversy and struggle for so long was passed over with little notice.
The resolution rescinding the emergency declaration for COVID-19 cited the CDC data from late last month listing transmission levels for Maricopa County as “low.” This means that all declarations related to the COVID-19 emergency are rescinded.
Although the city rescinded the emergency declaration, they continue to offer COVID-19 mitigation resources like testing kits and masks.
The city lagged behind the state in determining that COVID-19 no longer constituted an emergency.
Governor Doug Ducey ended the state’s COVID-19 emergency in March. The city last updated its face mask policy in February, requiring mask-wearing if risk levels were considered high. Phoenix went through periods of rescinding then reimposing its mask mandate.
It wasn’t until April that the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport dropped its mask mandate in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration no longer enforcing the federal mask mandate.
Like most other cities, Phoenix capitalized on its $396 million in COVID-19 relief funds to subsidize community needs and other projects.
This included allocations like $75.5 million for homeless shelters, housing, treatments, and resources; $31 million for affordable housing and financial assistance; $16.7 million for a “Resilient Food System” to increase agriculture in the city with a focus on equity and inclusion; $10.5 million for planting trees and making homes energy efficient; $8.3 for refugees; $5 million went to community college tuition assistance.
As for COVID-19 mitigation efforts and expenses: $28.9 million went to city testing and vaccination efforts, $28 million funded current and projected COVID-19 health care expenses for the city, and $22 million funded premium pay for essential city workers.