aspen_banner.jpg
Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Treasury: Arizona risks relief funds over anti-mandate rules

COVID-19 ambulance
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File
/
In this June 10, 2020, file photo, an ambulance is parked at Arizona General Hospital in Laveen, Ariz. Arizona is continuing to see slight downward trends with coronavirus hospitalizations as officials find more related deaths. Arizona is committing millions of dollars and asking the federal government for extra help as hospitals face a growing strain from rising COVID-19 caseloads and warn they are nearing their limits.

The Biden administration is threatening to recoup COVID-19 relief funds sent to Arizona over state provisions it says discourage families and school districts from following federal guidance recommending face coverings in schools.

At issue are two state programs that are meant to help schools and students but that direct funding away from jurisdictions with mask requirements.

The Treasury Department warns in a Friday letter that Arizona has 60 days to remove the anti-masking provisions before the federal government moves to recover the relief money.

It also threatens to withhold the next tranche of aid. Arizona has received about half of the $4.2 billion awarded to it under the 2021 coronavirus relief bill.