Pro-Vaccine Mandate Tucson Mayor Contracts COVID Despite Being Vaccinated, Boosted

December 5, 2022

By Corinne Murdock |

On Sunday, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero announced that she contracted COVID-19 — despite being vaccinated and up to date on booster shots.

Romero clarified that her symptoms were mild.

Under Romero’s leadership, the city of Tucson instituted a vaccine mandate for employees last August. Romero has characterized the vaccine mandate as a “policy” and “requirement,” though previously she acknowledged the county’s requirement of masks as a mandate.  

In response to the mandate, Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a civil rights lawsuit in August (CV2022-011416). Brnovich accused the city of disparate treatment between unvaccinated and vaccinated employees. Brnovich claimed the city punished unvaccinated employees awaiting approval of their exemption or accommodation requests with unpaid suspension, denied additional sick leave to recover from COVID-19 or to quarantine if a family member contracted COVID-19, and required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing at their own expense. 

However, vaccinated employees were given additional sick leave. 

About 377 employees requested a medical exemption for the mandate, and 352 employees requested a religious exemption.

Brnovich’s lawsuit against the city is ongoing in the Arizona Superior Court. 

Tucson’s vaccine mandate also prompted state intervention last year. Prior to the Arizona Supreme Court overturning a newly-enacted law banning state or local government from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, Brnovich threatened to withhold over $175 million in state revenues.

The city also required election workers to be vaccinated ahead of the special election in May. The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted in July to rescind that mandate for the primary elections. That decision followed requests from their elections officials concerned that they wouldn’t have adequate staffing with the mandate in place. 

The county and city of Tucson implemented similar vaccine mandates. However, in September the Pima County Board of Supervisors rescinded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees and $45 monthly penalty for unvaccinated employees. It also implemented a reward for those vaccinated employees who stay up to date on booster shots: 16 hours of paid time off every year.

A newly-enacted state law (HB2498) prohibits state and local governments from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.

Romero has affirmed consistently that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.

“The decision to not get vaccinated does not just affect personal health, it unjustly exposes others to the risk of illness; including coworkers, members of the public, and children,” stated Romero. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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