Republicans in control of the Arizona House voted 31-28 on Wednesday to let businesses ignore mask mandates to stem COVID-19 spread partly by absurdly arguing they weren’t needed decades ago to stop the spread of AIDS.
On a party-line vote, the Republican-controlled House approved legislation that says business owners need not enforce any state, city, town or county requirement for people to wear a mask.
The measure now goes to the GOP-controlled Senate.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joseph Chaplik, a first-term Republican legislator from Scottsdale, said his House Bill 2770 would give businesses the choice of whether to enforce the mandates that many communities already adopted.
“It’s about the individual rights of these business owners as Americans,” Chaplik said.
Chaplik argued that the mandates are an overreaction and that society has managed to survive other viral outbreaks without masks.
For example, he cited HIV “that was going to wipe our global destruction of human bodies with AIDS.”
“We heard about that in the ’80s,” Chaplik said. “Yet no masks were required.”
The medical consensus is that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids, usually through sexual transmission or through the sharing of infected needles. It is not spread by air or water, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Rep. Randall Friese, a Tucson Democrat who is a physician, said masks are part of the “very basic, important tools,” along with hand-washing and social distancing, to curb the spread.
At least 16,185 deaths have been reported in Arizona since Feb. 29, 2020, reports The Washington Post.