Lawmaker Fights Pima County’s Religious Accommodation Denial For COVID Vaccine

Lawmaker Fights Pima County’s Religious Accommodation Denial For COVID Vaccine

By Corinne Murdock |

Last month, State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) requested Attorney General Mark Brnovich investigate Pima County for denying reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs conflicting with their COVID-19 vaccination requirement. At this point in the investigation, Townsend has requested Pima County employees to file complaints to the civil rights division of the attorney general’s office.

The county requires current and future employees to get vaccinated. However, the county must abide by A.R.S. § 23-206 which requires reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs.

“If an employer receives notice from an employee that the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances prevent the employee from taking the COVID-19 vaccination, the employer shall provide a reasonable accommodation unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship and more than a de minimus cost to the operation of the employer’s business,” read the statute.

Pima County contended that the law poses an undue hardship. In a statement released Thursday, Townsend asserted that Pima County’s allegations of undue hardship conflicted with their previous two years of mitigations without a vaccine. 

“[T]he County alleges that it cannot provide reasonable accommodations in certain situations due to the hardship it would cause them, even though employers have successfully adjusted to accommodate COVID-19 in the workplace for nearly two years,” stated Townsend. “I am confident the attorney general will continue to investigate, and where appropriate prosecute, instances of personal freedom infringement across Arizona, including in Pima County.

Townsend promised further that she would continue to fight for individuals to make their own medical decisions.

Late last month, Brnovich responded to another request from Townsend concerning another COVID-19 topic: forced quaratines of K-12 students. Brnovich issued an opinion declaring that students had a right to legal counsel in the event that their school required them to quarantine for COVID-19 exposure. 

In September, another one of Townsend’s inquiries to Brnovich on the legality of COVID-19 response measures prompted action from the city of Tucson. After Brnovich opined that the city acted unlawfully when it handed down five days unpaid suspension to unvaccinated employees, the city halted its vaccine mandate.

Within a week, the CDC changed its guidelines to halve the quarantining recommendation from 10 days to five. As AZ Free News reported, the changes came after a request letter to the CDC from Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian. 

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

Nguyen Seeks To Protect Employees Denied Vaccine Religious Exemption

Nguyen Seeks To Protect Employees Denied Vaccine Religious Exemption

By Terri Jo Neff |

Employers who mandate COVID-19 vaccinations as a prerequisite to employment or continued employment could be held liable for damages if an employee is denied a religious exemption and then suffers significant injury due to the vaccine, according to legislation introduced Friday by State Rep. Quang Nguyen.

“The reality is COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time,” Nguyen said of his motivation for the bill. “If businesses and employers are intent on mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment, they should be held accountable if their employees face serious harm or illness.”

Some COVID-19 vaccines have been granted liability protection from the federal government, which limits the options for affected individuals who are injured in connection to a vaccination.  Current state law only provides for an affected employee to seek recourse via the workers’ compensation system. 

Nguyen, a Republican, serves Legislative District 1 which includes Prescott and portions of Yavapai and Maricopa counties. His HB2043 creates a separate pathway for an employee to seek recourse if they are significantly injured due to a mandated vaccine after being denied a  religious exemption.

“This is one of the most important bills I’m introducing this coming session,” Nguyen said. “Public and private health mandates are not a good solution and could instead cause harm in some cases.” 

According to the current bill language, anaffected employee who prevails in state court could be entitled to at least $500,000 in actual damages. Punitive damages could also be sought in cases where egregious or malicious conduct is alleged.

Another 11 representatives have signed on to HB2043 as co-sponsors.

Governor Ducey Takes Action to Protect Students and Parents from More School Shutdowns

Governor Ducey Takes Action to Protect Students and Parents from More School Shutdowns

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

By now, you’re probably fed up with talking about school shutdowns. And frankly, we’re getting fed up with fighting the left on this issue. But leave it to the teachers’ unions and RedforEd to call for more school shutdowns right before students returned from their winter break.

Once again, they’d rather play politics than truly trust the science. After all, we’ve been dealing with this pandemic for almost two years and with that comes data. So, what do we know? A microscopic 0.2 percent of deaths from COVID-19 have come from individuals under the age of 20 in Arizona. At the time this article was written, the total number of reported COVID fatalities for that age range was 54.

While death of any sort is heartbreaking, these numbers prove that COVID is no more dangerous for children than the seasonal flu. But the teachers’ unions and RedforEd just can’t help themselves—because, as usual, it’s always about them.

>>> CONTINUE READING >>>

Flagstaff Mayor Has COVID-19 and Symptomatic, Despite Vaccination

Flagstaff Mayor Has COVID-19 and Symptomatic, Despite Vaccination

By Corinne Murdock |

Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy announced Wednesday that he contracted COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated. According to members of the Flagstaff City Council in remarks to the Arizona Daily Sun, Deasy had been getting tested secretly all week and knew his family had several COVID-19 exposures — yet decided to attend Tuesday’s meeting anyway. 

Councilman Austin Aslan criticized Deasy for deciding to put people at risk. Aslan added that Deasy shopped at the outdoor recreational store, REI, on Sunday.

“This all seems very ironic for a person that has been almost theatrical in his protestations about the needs for COVID safety protocols and aggressive funding,” observed Aslan. 

Deasy claimed that he didn’t know he had COVID-19, and called accusations from the council “pretty ridiculous.” He explained that he normally takes COVID-19 tests several times a week to ensure he’s not infected.

“I tested positive for Covid this morning after waking up with a mild sore throat. Thankful to be vaccinated so symptoms are mild,” wrote Deasy. “Please get tested if you have any symptoms whatsoever. What is mild to you can be deadly to others.”

Later on the same day he tested positive, Deasy shared the claim from Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) that unvaccinated individuals were 31.1 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the vaccinated.

ADHS also noted that unvaccinated individuals were nearly five times as likely to test positive for COVID-19.

As AZ Free News reported, the latest death totals for COVID-19 reached over 24,300. Nearly zero percent of deaths occurred in those under 20 years old; the majority of deaths came from individuals over 65 years old. 

Last September, Deasy offered some advice to Flagstaff’s visitors with the “WTF” acronym — a version void of explicit language, instead reading “Welcome To Flagstaff[;] Wear The Face mask.”

Following Deasy’s test results, Flagstaff City Council decided to convene in a special meeting on Thursday to discuss returning to completely virtual meetings. 

Councilman Adam Shimoni said it was “embarrassing” that the council had to inform attendees, including a group of high school students, that they’d been exposed to COVID-19 at Tuesday’s meeting. He urged stricter safety protocols to mitigate the spread, especially with the outbreak of Omicron.

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

Free Speech and the Great Barrington Declaration

Free Speech and the Great Barrington Declaration

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

The controversy over COVID management is not a medical disagreement but a political fight. It’s also a free speech issue, the question of whether those who disagree with the political/medical status-quo should be silenced.

Although we have learned more over time about the origins and development of COVID, there is no question it is a contagious virus that spreads primarily through respiratory secretions.

Infections range from symptom-free to fatal, but serious disease and death occur almost exclusively in the infirm and the elderly. Like all viruses, the coronavirus mutates, apparently into variants that are more contagious but less deadly.

So far so good. The disagreement is over its containment. Americans have become a risk-averse people, where nonsensical catch phrases like “if it only saves one life” and “in an abundance of caution” have supplanted sober cost/benefit analysis.

So, our government’s go-to solution for the pandemic was lockdowns for everyone. Commercial, social, educational, and other personal interactions were halted to stop the spread of the disease.

The results of this massive experiment in public health were disappointing. 800,000 Americans have perished. There may have been some benefit to “flattening the curve”—spacing out illnesses to avoid overwhelming healthcare facilities—but the total number of fatalities was not much affected.

Meanwhile the cost of the lockdowns was enormous. The federal government spent $6 trillion in COVID relief, much of it wasted or misappropriated. Moreover, virtually all of the handouts were debt financed, pleasing current taxpayers/voters but assuring that Americans will be struggling financially far into the future.

The collateral damage included over 90,000 “excess deaths” due to forced shutdowns of routine preventive and diagnostic care. There were sharp spikes in levels of depression, substance abuse, and overdose deaths, especially among the young.

The Great Barrington Declaration (GBD) in October 2020 was based on addressing these “grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies.” It recommended an alternative approach called Focused Protection.

The authors were respected physicians from Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford with 91,000 additional professional endorsements, including from a Nobel prize winner. Their paper noted that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 was over 1,000 times higher in vulnerable populations than among young people. For children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

Thus, it made sense to protect vulnerable populations if anything more vigorously, while reopening schools, businesses, and restaurants with reasonable precautions. Both overall mortality and social harm could be protected until we reached herd immunity.

In a society based on reason and open inquiry, this proposal would at least have received serious consideration. Instead, the Trump-hating media erupted in withering denunciations and cancellations.

Worse, recently obtained emails reveal that our “follow the science” authorities intentionally thwarted the dissenting viewpoint. Then-director of the NIH Francis Collins wrote Anthony (“I am the Science”) Fauci that GBD seemed to be getting some attention. “There needs to be a quick and devastating takedown of its premises. Is it underway?”

Fauci answered in the affirmative. Soon after, he informed The Washington Post that GBD was a fringe operation. “This is not mainstream science. It’s dangerous.”

Several media outlets ran with criticisms by Fauci, who completed the cycle by citing their articles in his talking points. Facebook pitched in by censoring any references to GBD. It was the dreaded “misinformation.”

Focused Protection never got traction. But shutting down open dissent in favor of political agendas has produced tragic consequences. In spite of Fauci’s claim in October 2020 that the draconian remedies were temporary, when caseloads rose the next month, shutdowns were resumed.

Hard data is never available on the path not taken, but it’s undeniable that the costs of following the Fauci/Collins strategy were staggering: unbelievably enormous federal outlays, shattered businesses, untreated illnesses, suicides, and devastating educational achievement losses.

Let’s be smarter with omicron. Let’s vaccinate and medicate, protect the vulnerable but avoid panic and unnecessary disruptions in our lives.

The Great Barrington Declaration, the responses, and consequences are a reminder of the practical importance of free speech rights. Better decisions are made when all sides are heard out.