Queen Creek Won’t Issue Pandemic-Related Mandates In Future

Queen Creek Won’t Issue Pandemic-Related Mandates In Future

By Corinne Murdock |

The town of Queen Creek has committed to not enforce pandemic-related mandates in the future, namely concerning COVID-19. 

The Queen Creek Town Council issued a resolution during its regular meeting last week to not implement mandates concerning masks, vaccines, business closures, curfews, or “any similar measure,” effectively refusing to establish emergency orders that would put its citizens through a repeat of this recent COVID-19 pandemic.

The council declared that their resolution was passed to counter a trend among other local and state governments that have been, once again, implementing COVID-19 mandates. The council declared that they were taking the proactive measure to assure their citizens’ “God-given rights and liberties.”

“The Queen Creek Town Council believes the decision to wear a mask and receive a COVID-19 vaccination are personal decisions, not something to be mandated by the government,” stated the resolution. “[The council] believes in the right and liberty of individuals to make personal decisions according to their convictions.” 

The resolution recommended town employees practice personal responsibility for illness prevention and declared that the town’s policy would be to allow employees to make their own decisions on vaccines and mask-wearing. The resolution also declared that no employee would be fired for refusing to wear a mask or receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Councilman Travis Padilla said that the resolution affirmed Queen Creek’s commitment to not allowing a repeat of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This is a loud and clear message we are sending, that it is important for our town to make a statement that says what happened in the past is not going to happen in the future,” said Padilla.

Back in June 2020, the town refused to implement mask mandates while its governing neighbors in Gilbert and Chandler did, as well as the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Almost all other local governments in the state enforced mask mandates, including: Avondale, Bisbee, Buckeye, Casa Grande, Carefree, Clarkdale, Clifton, Coolidge, Cottonwood, Douglas, El Mirage, Flagstaff, Fountain Hills, Gila Bend, Glendale, Globe, Goodyear, Guadalupe, Jerome, Kingman, Litchfield Park, Mammoth, Mesa, Miami, Nogales, Oro Valley, Paradise Valley, Payson, Peoria, Phoenix, San Luis, Sedona, Scottsdale, Somerton, Superior, Surprise, Tempe, Tolleson, Tucson, Youngtown, and Yuma. 

Tucson and Phoenix also enforced vaccine mandates. Tucson maintained their vaccine mandate, even fighting against a legal challenge from former Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Phoenix suspended their enforcement due to federal ruling against the Biden administration’s federal contractor vaccine mandate. 

Pima County also enforced a vaccine mandate up until the legislature passed a ban against the practice last year. 

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

Hobbs Vetoes Bill To Save Lives, Protect Religious Liberty

Hobbs Vetoes Bill To Save Lives, Protect Religious Liberty

By Daniel Stefanski |

A push to protect Arizonans’ constitutional liberties for future health emergencies hit a dead end after clearing both chambers of the Arizona Legislature.

This week, Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed SB 1250, which dealt with vaccine requirements and religious exemptions to those mandated medical shots. The governor’s veto was her 20th of the legislative session.

In a letter to President Warren Petersen on Thursday, the governor explained her reasoning for rejecting the legislature’s proposal: “This bill is unnecessary, as legal protections for an employee’s religious beliefs already exist in federal employment law. This bill also threatens employers with a civil penalty and a hefty fine, which could be devastating for Arizona’s many small businesses.”

Hobbs encouraged legislative leaders to “work to find bipartisan solutions that promote the educated and healthy workforce that is essential for Arizona’s economy.”

Senator Janae Shamp, the bill’s sponsor, was not pleased with the governor’s action, releasing the following statement in response: “I spent my entire career as a nurse, being an advocate for my patients and ensuring that their beliefs are respected and protected. The reason I’m here at the Senate, is because I was fired from my job as a nurse after refusing to get the experimental COVID-19 vaccine. My top priority is this bill because during the pandemic, Americans’ medical freedoms were taken from them, myself included. For me, the Governor’s veto is personal. Not just for me but for every Arizonan who lost their job in the same manner.”

Shamp also addressed the governor’s call for bipartisan solutions, saying, “To call out those who stood to protect our health from an experimental shot that is proving to be toxic for many, is beyond an insult. If we truly care about our healthcare and getting people back to work, then maybe we should come together to get nurses back into our hospitals.”

The senator promised “to continue to fight for Arizonans’ medical freedom.”

On Twitter, Senator Shamp went further, calling Governor Hobbs “an open medical tyrant.”

SB 1250 instituted these main provisions (among others) for state law:

– “Requires employers to allow employees that complete a religious exemption form to opt out of vaccination requirements for COVID-19, influenza A, influenza B, flu or any vaccine authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use only.”

– “Prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee regarding employment, wages or benefits based on vaccination status; and from inquiring into the veracity of an employee’s religious beliefs practices or observances to the extent beyond what is allowed under federal law.”

– “Allows a terminated employee who was not offered or was denied a vaccination religious exemption by their employer to file a complaint with the Attorney General.”

This legislation closely tracked an opinion request from former Senator Kelly Townsend to former Attorney General Mark Brnovich, which was answered on August 20, 2021. Townsend asked three questions, including whether an employer could require a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. Brnovich, who had several lawsuits over federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates (including the first one in the nation that was filed in Brnovich v. Biden), found that “under federal and state law, employers who mandate vaccinations must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who cannot obtain the COVID-19 vaccine due to a disability or a sincerely-held religious belief.”

Brnovich’s opinion also outlined that “a sincerely-held religious belief about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine includes a moral or ethical belief against receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that has the strength of a traditional religious view.” On the 2022 campaign trail, current Attorney General Kris Mayes was asked about forced vaccine mandates by private businesses and responded, “Of course they can. It is a private business.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Phoenix Giving Out $100 Gift Cards For Vaccines

Phoenix Giving Out $100 Gift Cards For Vaccines

By Corinne Murdock |

Individuals may receive $100 grocery gift cards if they get vaccinated fully through the city of Phoenix’s mobile COVID-19 vans. Those interested must register with either Vincere Cancer Center or Premier Lab Solutions, the two health care companies operating the vans. Vaccination will be free, as will be testing. 

The city didn’t disclose how many gift cards they would give out in their initial announcement, only saying that the number of gift cards given would continue while supplies lasted. AZ Free News asked the city how many gift cards they were distributing. They didn’t respond by press time.

Phoenix’s move appears to fall in line with the suggestion from President Joe Biden this summer to offer $100 to incentivize vaccinations.

Phoenix will have one to two vaccination vans eligible for the $100 gift card offer at various locations around the Valley. A list of vaccination dates, times, and locations is available on the city’s website.

Like many other cities across the country, Phoenix has relied on monetary incentives or rewards for compliance with encouraged or mandated vaccination. Last December, the city council voted to give its employees bonuses of up to $2,000 for getting vaccinated, costing the city anywhere from $25 to $29 million in federal relief funds. 

Other governmental authorities have opted to offer financial incentives for vaccination as well. In December, the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) Governing Board voted to give employees $500 for being vaccinated fully, with $100 for each booster shot. The board reported that these vaccination payments would total approximately $3 to $5.8 million of their federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. 

According to one of the latest special reports from the Arizona Auditor General, school districts and charter schools spent less than 25 percent of their federal relief monies by the end of June. The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) spent far less: they had 95.5 percent of federal relief funds left to spend by the end of June. 

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

Employers Must Tell OSHA Of Employees’ Adverse Reactions To Mandated Vaccinations

Employers Must Tell OSHA Of Employees’ Adverse Reactions To Mandated Vaccinations

By Terri Jo Neff |

Business owners thinking of requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment may want to consider the latest advisory from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

According to OSHA, an employee’s adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine is recordable on the company’s OSHA recordkeeping log if the reaction stems from a work-related, mandated vaccination and the incident meets at least one other recording criteria, such as time away from work, medical treatment beyond basic first aid, or restricted work duties or job transfer.

Despite the advisory to employers, OSHA and other federal agencies have announced efforts to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace. That is why OSHA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor, does not require employers to report an employee’s adverse reaction to a recommended vaccination, even if the employer pays for or arranges for the vaccination.

OSHA is exercising its enforcement discretion to only require the recording of adverse effects to required vaccines at this time,” the website reads, adding that the vaccination “must be truly voluntary. For example, an employee’s choice to accept or reject the vaccine cannot affect their performance rating or professional advancement. An employee who chooses not to receive the vaccine cannot suffer any repercussions from this choice.”

In a related matter, OSHA has weighed in on employers requiring employees to sign liability waivers in the event of exposure in the workplace to the SARS virus which causes COVID-19. While the agency does not take a position for or against waivers, its website makes clear that the existence of a waiver does not preclude an employee’s right to file an Occupational Safety and Health Act complaint.

“The worker continues to have the right to file a safety or health complaint under section 8(f) and/or a retaliation complaint under section 11(c), regardless of any language contained in the waiver.”

The OSHA website also provides employers and employees with information about the requirement for reporting in-patient COVID-19 hospitalizations stemming from workplace exposure. Such reporting is only required if the hospitalization occurs within 24 hours of the exposure, according to the website.

Anticipation Of Hotter Weather Prompts Glendale Vaccination Site To Move Into Gila River Arena

Anticipation Of Hotter Weather Prompts Glendale Vaccination Site To Move Into Gila River Arena

Warm weather is here, and in anticipation of ever-increasing temperatures, Arizona’s largest vaccination site at State Farm Stadium will transition to an indoor site at Gila River Arena in Glendale on Friday, April 23.

The State Farm Stadium site will move to nighttime hours starting Monday, April 5, to avoid daytime heat. It will conclude operations the morning of April 23 and move indoors to Gila River Arena, home to the Arizona Coyotes. Operating from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, the new Gila River Arena site will have the capacity to administer 1,000 shots per hour.

An indoor vaccination site at Yuma Civic Center transitioned to a state operation on Monday, March 29, with 8,000 appointments per week initially and capacity for 4,000 appointments a day.

An East Mesa distribution center operated by Dexcom opens Monday, April 5, as the Valley’s first state-run indoor drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site, replacing the outdoor site currently operating at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. The site will start out offering 3,000-4,000 appointments a day.

The new indoor vaccination site in Glendale will use Gila River Arena’s main concourse to check in and vaccinate patients who have appointments, while the arena’s seats will be available for individuals to spend their 15 or 30 minutes of observation after vaccination.

Vaccine recipients will enter through the venue’s main entrance at Gate 4, and parking at the site will be complimentary.

At 11 a.m. every Friday, ADHS makes appointments available at state-run sites for the following week. Registration for these and many other sites is available at podvaccine.azdhs.gov or by calling 844-542-8201 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Both resources offer assistance in English and Spanish.