Maricopa County approves incentives for its employees who get vaccinated

Amid rising COVID-19 cases in Arizona, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted the morning of Sept. 1 to approve incentives for employees who get vaccinated.

The incentives include $100 and one day of leave from work.

To qualify for the incentives, Maricopa County employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31 and show proof of vaccination. The $100 will be posted to employees' November paychecks.

The majority of the board voted for the incentives, saying it was a better alternative to encourage people to get vaccinated, rather than penalizing those who choose not to.

MORE: Find COVID-19 vaccine locations in your area

More than 1,000 doctors across the state signed a letter, asking county leaders to implement a mask mandate for students and staff in schools after data from the Maricopa County Health Department showed 1 in 6 new COVID-19 infections involve a child under the age of 12.

"In my mind, this is a business decision for us," said Maricopa County Manager Joy Rich. "We are self-insured through a benefit's trust, and as a practical matter, you heard that folks that are unvaccinated are 5% more likely to get COVID and 29 times more likely to be hospitalized. That impacts from a business standpoint as well."

Banner Health announced on Sept. 1 they've treated more than 400 pediatric patients for COVID-19 in the month of August, nearly four times more than the number of COVID-positive kids they saw in July.

Fortunately, the majority of kids with COVID-19 do not need intensive care – those between the ages of 20 and 65 make up the majority of COVID-19 patients in the ICU, and 90% of those are not vaccinated.

Arizona on Wednesday reported 4,740 new COVID-19 cases and 67 deaths.

"The fact that we just received a letter signed by 1,067 doctors asking us to do more, I really don’t think we can afford to wait," said Maricopa County Board Chairman Jack Sellers.


In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Monitor your health daily

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

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