Pima County OKs insurance penalty for unvaccinated employees

Arizona’s second-most populous county is prodding its workforce to get COVID-19 vaccinations by requiring employees who refuse the shots to pay more for their health insurance.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted on Sept. 7 to make unvaccinated employees lose discounts amounting to about $1,570 annually, local news outlets reported.

Supervisor Steve Christy voted in opposition, saying it was wrong and illegal to penalize unvaccinated workers.

The board previously authorized $300 bonuses plus three days of paid time off for county workers who have been vaccinated.

RELATED: Maricopa County approves incentives for its employees who get vaccinated

Supervisor Matt Heinz before Tuesday’s meeting had requested agenda items to consider requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all state-licensed health workers who work in Pima County, which includes metro Tucson, and re-imposing indoor mask mandates countywide. He dropped both ideas, saying they lacked support among fellow board members.

Arizona on Wednesday reported 2,222 newly confirmed COVID-19 infection cases and 26 more deaths, increasing the state’s pandemic totals to 1,037,012 confirmed cases and 19,079 deaths.

The number of virus-related hospitalizations during the current surge continued to gradually increase with 2,090 COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds as of Tuesday, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

That’s over half of the peak hospitalizations during the 2020 summer surge and about two-fifths of the pandemic peak during last winter’s surge.

MORE: Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers


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.

More COVID-19 in Arizona news

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