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

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

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 However, in September the Pima County Board of Supervisors rescinded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees and $45 monthly penalty for unvaccinated employees.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

Pima County Rescinds Employee Vaccine Mandate, Will Award Vaccinated With PTO

Pima County Rescinds Employee Vaccine Mandate, Will Award Vaccinated With PTO

By Corinne Murdock |

On Wednesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to rescind its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, as well as its $45 monthly penalty for unvaccinated employees. The board mentioned but didn’t vote on rehiring those fired for not getting vaccinated, with backpay, as well as reimbursing those who paid the penalty for not getting vaccinated. 

Although the board rolled back its punitive measures for COVID-19 compliance, it implemented a reward for obedient county employees: 16 hours of paid time off (PTO) every year for those who stay up to date with their COVID-19 booster shots. 

During Wednesday’s meeting, most of the board were reluctant to drop the vaccine mandate and $45 penalty. Only two supervisors, Grijalva and Matt Heinz, opposed rolling back the vaccine mandate. Heinz said that the county should sue the state. Bronson responded sarcastically that Heinz’s suggestion was a “good way to spend taxpayer dollars.”

Only Supervisor Steve Christy opposed the PTO, arguing that individuals shouldn’t be paid for receiving voluntary medical treatment. Christy noted that the county didn’t conduct a cost analysis. Supervisor Sharon Bronson shared Christy’s concern about the cost to the county, though she voted for the PTO. She questioned the efficacy of a yearly booster, and contended that the county didn’t offer an equal incentive for annual flu shots.

The board’s decision came five days before a new state law, HB2498, goes into effect prohibiting vaccine mandates for local government employees. 

Supervisor Adelita Grijalva said that the new state law constitutes an overreach. Grijalva insisted that their county’s COVID-19 mandates worked to curb COVID-19 infections and deaths.

“I guess, go ahead and follow the law in this situation,” said Grijalva. 

Supervisor Rex Scott concurred with Grijalva. He suggested that the county take next steps through the County Supervisors Association of Arizona (CSA) Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) to increase their power and authority.

“It is not just Pima County that has concerns about moves made by the legislature and governor to restrict our statutory authority as the public health authority,” said Scott.

Bronson agreed, inferring that CSA was their best option for adjusting the balance of power between county and state. Bronson referred to the ongoing issue over the vaccine mandate as “drama.”

The county first issued its vaccine mandate last August. Then last September, they issued a $45 monthly penalty for unvaccinated employees in the form of a health insurance premium surcharge. Only employees with a medical or religious exemption were excluded from the surcharge. In all, 236 employees paid that penalty. 

In April, Governor Doug Ducey signed HB2498 into law, which prohibited local governments from mandating their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 


Despite the inevitable unlawfulness of their mandate, the board decided in May to continue its vaccine mandate for new hires and promotions up until HB2498 went into effect.

Last month, Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued the county over the vaccine mandate: State of Arizona v. City of Tucson (CV2022-011416 in the Maricopa County Superior Court). The last action on that case took place on September 3, with a motion for compulsory arbitration

Overall, the county received 284 medical or religious exemption requests for the COVID-19 vaccine: 257 religious, 27 medical. 

The county granted 149 religious accommodations; 70 were incomplete, 19 were denied. Of the 27 medical exemption requests, the county granted 26; the one denial was due to a rescission of an offer of employment. 

Watch the Pima County Board of Supervisors discuss the COVID-19 mandate below:

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

Arizona Attorney General Sues Tucson Over Its Vaccine Mandate

Arizona Attorney General Sues Tucson Over Its Vaccine Mandate

By Corinne Murdock |

On Tuesday, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a civil rights lawsuit against Tucson over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees. 

In a press release, Brnovich argued that the mandate was a violation of personal liberty and an exemplar of government overreach.

“Tucson dictated a widespread vaccine mandate without regard to its impact on the liberties and civil rights of its employees,” said Brnovich. “Many of those affected are first responders, and it’s our turn to be there for them. The city’s misguided vaccine mandate is an ugly example of government overreach that we must vigorously oppose.”

Brnovich accused Tucson of punishing unvaccinated employees with unpaid suspension regardless of whether their exemption or accommodation requests were pending or approved. A majority of the city employees affected by the slim deadline were first responders. 

According to the lawsuit, at least 377 city employees requested a medical exemption, and 352 employees requested a religious exemption. 


The lawsuit further criticized the city’s blanket policy approach for requiring the vaccine, noting that some unvaccinated employees were or could work remotely. It alleged that the city made employment “more onerous” for unvaccinated employees. 

Among those alleged more onerous requirements: the city gave vaccinated employees additional leave to recover from COVID-19 infection or to quarantine if a family member became infected with COVID-19 but denied that benefit to unvaccinated employees. Additionally, the city gave only vaccinated employees an 8-hour “floating holiday,” as well as the ability to travel outside of Pima County for job-related career enhancement opportunities. Furthermore, certain unvaccinated employees were required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing at their own expense.

In doing so, Tucson claimed its denial of equal treatment to unvaccinated employees was a means to incentivize vaccination. 

“[The city of Tucson’s] purported ‘incentives’ were, severally and collectively, coercive actions that punished employees who could not comply with Defendant’s vaccine directives because of a sincerely-held religious belief and/or disability,” stated the lawsuit.

The city did put their vaccine mandate on hold last September, after Brnovich warned the city that its original five-day unpaid suspension of unvaccinated employees was unlawful. At the time, Brnovich said he would direct Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee to withhold the city’s state shared revenues, totaling over $175 million.

However, the city kept up its vaccine mandate. The next month, a divided city council voted to terminate the unvaccinated by December 1. Tucson’s action prompted Governor Doug Ducey to intervene. Ducey informed the city that their mandate conflicted with Arizona law. 

However, the next month the Arizona Supreme Court overturned Arizona’s new law banning any level of government from requiring COVID-19 vaccine mandates. 

Mayor Regina Romero and other city leaders have insisted in public messaging that their workforce was mostly compliant with their vaccine mandate, which Romero called a “vaccine policy.”

Several weeks after Tucson’s deadline passed, Ducey issued an executive order banning local or state governments from issuing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In a response statement, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero alluded to Brnovich’s legal opinion that employers could institute their own vaccine mandates as a defense of Tucson’s mandate.

“Arizona Attorney General Brnovich already told the governor what he doesn’t want to hear. He has no authority to preempt local actions through executive orders,” stated Romero.

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

Arizona Lawmakers Have Passed Key Bills to Prevent Future COVID Overreach

Arizona Lawmakers Have Passed Key Bills to Prevent Future COVID Overreach

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

The overwhelming majority of people are done with COVID restrictions. Just look at the reaction when mask mandates were put to an end on airplanes last month. Cheering. Celebration. Throwing masks away. There’s nothing surprising about this—unless of course you’re a member of the liberal media.

With a desire to tackle COVID overreach head on, our own state lawmakers got to work last year. And through a series of Budget Reconciliation Bills, they took important steps to protect Arizonans from more COVID mandates.

But then in November, some of the protections were thrown out in court on procedural grounds. Thankfully, the Arizona legislature didn’t ignore the problem and got back to work this year. Now, they have passed several significant bills that are officially signed into law to protect against future COVID and government overreach…


House Bill Barring K-12 COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Heading to Floor For Vote

House Bill Barring K-12 COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Heading to Floor For Vote

By Corinne Murdock |

Both the House Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education Committees approved a bill preventing K-12 schools from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for attendance. HB2086 passed narrowly along party lines: 5-4 in the former, 6-4 in the latter.

State Representative Joanne Osborne (R-Goodyear) insisted during the Education Committee hearing on Tuesday that this bill safeguards parental rights. Osborne relayed how she heard that some high schools were considering masking mandates for student athletes.

“Some may ask why is this necessary now? It’s not being mandated. I want to make sure it stays that way,” said Osborne. “I’m not a health physician, but I am a parent. I am speaking up because this is not a childhood disease. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but I am going to say to parents: talk to your doctors about this.”

Osborne clarified that she wasn’t opposed to vaccination requirements for other diseases, because traditional vaccinations have been established for their safety and efficacy for years.

State Representative Lupe Diaz (R-Hereford) said the vaccination requirement reminded him of China’s social credit system, and insisted that vaccination requirements for participation in public systems was tantamount to weaponization. 

State Representative John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction) noted that this was only a “tiny step toward freedom.”

As a rebuttal to the logic of the bill, State Representative Judy Schwiebert (D-Phoenix) said that broad vaccine exemptions are already in place, calling the bill “redundant.” State Representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson) added onto Schwiebert’s argument, arguing that Arizona already has strong parental choice laws in other regards, such as school choice. 

During the HHS Committee meeting last week, State Representative Melody Hernandez (D-Tempe) said that forcing quarantine for healthy students who aren’t sick is important to keep everyone around the children safe. Hernandez claimed that the opt-out process was sufficient for parental choice. 

However, Heather Rooks, a mother of four, pointed out during the Education Committee that even with religious or medical exemptions, unvaccinated students may be forcibly quarantined with an outbreak, which the state defines as two or more cases. Committee policy aides verified that this was correct.

State Representative Beverly Pingerelli (R-Peoria), a Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) governing board member, declared that children had suffered too much already.

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