Surcharge for unvaccinated Pima County employees challenged

A law enforcement union has filed a lawsuit challenging a $45 health insurance surcharge imposed each pay period on Pima County employees who haven’t received the coronavirus vaccination and haven’t been granted exemptions.

The Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs said in its lawsuit that unvaccinated county employees are confronting whether to continue shouldering the costs or get vaccinated, despite personal or medical concerns. The surcharge, which took effect on Nov. 1, would cost an unvaccinated employee close to $1,200 per year.

The association, which filed its lawsuit late last week, alleges the charge violates federal law by failing to offer a reasonable alternative to being vaccinated. The lawsuit said the county’s wellness program, which imposes a surcharge on tobacco users, lets tobacco users take part in alternatives such as smoking cessation programs.

The county declined to comment on the lawsuit.

COVID-19 booster

FILE - Close-up photo of gloved hands holding a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Across Arizona on Wednesday, health officials reported 3,249 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 81 more deaths from the virus.

The state has now seen 1,323,997 cases and 23,324 deaths since the pandemic started.

Hospitalizations dipped slightly from a day earlier to 2,723 as of Tuesday.

MORE: Coronavirus in Arizona: Latest case numbers

But some of Arizona’s largest hospital systems, including Banner Health, are being stretched more than ever.

Officials say staff are overwhelmed caring for COVID-19 patients and patients who delayed treatment for other medical issues. It has led to postponement of surgeries and non-urgent primary care doctor visits.


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

More COVID-19 in Arizona news

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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