56 Pima County staffers lose jobs for refusing to follow COVID shot mandate

Paul ingram

TucsonSentinel.com

Pima County laid off 56 employees who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and instead chose to flout a policy for local government employees who work with vulnerable people, officials said Monday evening.

That includes 17 workers from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, and it’s far less than the previous tally of hundreds of non-compliant county workers who were fired under the shooting warrant.

According to Pima County records, only 16 regular full-time employees out of a total of 2,048 county employees covered by public health policy have been made redundant.

In a note to the supervisory board, acting county administrator Jan Lesher wrote that she was “happy to report that the overwhelming majority of employees identified as working with vulnerable populations have provided proof of vaccination ”by the deadline of December 31.

“I am sad to report that some county employees chose not to be vaccinated or were not given an exemption, and were laid off from their jobs in the county,” Lesher said.

In the sheriff’s department, only 12 regular classified employees were terminated under the policy, along with 2 “intermittent” workers and 3 recently hired employees who had not yet completed their probationary period.

In all other county departments, a total of 3 full-time classified employees and 1 full-time unclassified employee were terminated under the policy. 33 other intermittent part-time employees – mostly seasonal workers – and 2 staff members still on probation also lost their jobs for not respecting the mandate.

In October, supervisors voted 4 to 1 to demand that employees who work with children or the elderly, as well as correctional officers at Pima County Jail and Juvenile Detention Center, get vaccinated before the start of the day. new Year’s Day. In a note to council just before the deadline, Lesher wrote that the county’s 6,240 employees, nearly 87 percent, or 5,455 are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Lesher wrote that of 2,048 employees who work with vulnerable people, 1,883 were fully immunized by the deadline, or about 92%. Another 23 employees were granted exemptions “in accordance with federal and state laws,” she said. They have until Jan. 30 to find a new job in the county and cannot move to their current workplace, Lesher said.

Lesher said 46 employees received their first dose of the vaccine by the Dec.31 deadline. Although this exceeds the Jan. 1, 2022 deadline set by the supervisory board, Lesher wrote that employees may have until the third week of January to complete their vaccinations.

About 40 employees who had not been vaccinated against COVID-19 were either reassigned to other duties or retired, however, the county has not released specific figures on this group.

The results are similar to those of the city of Tucson, which instituted its own vaccination mandate last year. As of December 2, only 11 full-time city workers had refused vaccinations, along with 28 temporary workers. Dozens of other workers have requested and obtained exemptions.

While vaccinations became widely available over the past year, vaccination mandates have remained controversial. Over the summer, the Arizona state legislature and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey attempted to undermine warrants with a state law blocking them, but that law was overturned by a judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court. Likewise, an attempt by the Biden administration to require vaccinations for companies with more than 100 employees failed when several state attorneys general, including Arizona AG Mark Brnovich, filed challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Biden administration’s tenure soon.

Earlier counts showed more than 400 county employees refused the shots

In December, Lesher said there were 427 county employees who were covered by the policy and were not vaccinated, leading officials to predict that hundreds of local government workers could be fired for having refused their shots. about 50 employees.

“So we’ve made tremendous progress in this area,” Lesher said last week. “We have done a very good job of making sure our people stay safe,” she added.

While figures released by the county administration in late 2021 gave the impression that hundreds of prison officers and sergeants at the PCSD prison had not been vaccinated, Sheriff Chris Nanos told the Tucson Sentinel that his own figures showed that most of the staff were complying with the policy. In December, Nanos said only 24 of its officers were unvaccinated and would not seek to be vaccinated before the deadline. He attributed the difference to a “delay in paperwork” because of the vacation.

According to Lesher’s note Monday night, the sheriff’s department will lose 17 employees in total. This includes 12 classified full-time employees, 2 intermittent employees and 3 other full-time probationary employees.

Members of Parliament who work outside the prison are not covered by the shooting requirement.

Of the remaining departments, the county will lose 39 employees. This includes 4 full-time employees, 33 intermittent employees — which includes positions like lifeguards — and 2 employees on probation.

“The intention of the council leadership on November 2 was to ensure that 100 percent of county employees working with vulnerable populations were fully immunized by December 31,” Lesher wrote. “This political goal has been achieved.”

Overall, of the county’s four dozen departments, 13 have been fully immunized, according to county data last week. The lowest rate of employees vaccinated was at the county treasurer’s office, which had an immunization rate of just 72 percent. The sheriff’s department had a 75 percent vaccination rate among all employees.

Among employees who work with vulnerable people, the sheriff’s department had the lowest vaccination rate, followed by parks and recreation. Three departments, including Pima Animal Care, had vaccination rates of 100 percent.

The county’s decision to institute the firing requirement for some workers came weeks before the arrival of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which was found to be significantly more virulent than previous versions of the COVID-19 virus. In the past four weeks, the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19, accounting for more than 95% of coronavirus cases as of Jan. 1, 2022, according to the CDC. “While early data suggests Omicron infections may be less severe than those of other variants, the increase in cases and hospitalizations is expected to stress the healthcare system in the coming weeks,” the CDC said.

Omicron has created a singular and massive spike in new cases since the start of the year. As of January 5, more than 705,000 new cases were reported, according to the CDC, doubling the peak of January 2021. The CDC said the 7-day moving average of daily new cases was up almost 86% from the previous average, going from 315,851 cases to 586,391.

Since New Year’s Day, there have been 76,700 new cases of COVID-19 in Arizona, reaching a peak of 17,916 reported cases on January 4, according to figures from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Exactly a year earlier, the last big wave of COVID-19 cases pushed cases to just 12,455 cases.

Last week, Dr Theresa Cullen, director of the Pima County Health Department, warned the county would face a “sharp increase” in the number of COVID-19 cases, and had an overall case rate of 400 cases per 100,000 people. Additionally, testing in Pima County has shown an incredibly high 19% positivity rate, going as high as 45% at some testing sites.

In October, the board voted in favor of the measure – with supervisor Steve Christy being the only vote against – and added that new employees and those seeking promotions will also need to be vaccinated. Supervisors also demanded that county employees get vaccinated so they can work outside, including part-time concerts or for sheriff’s assistants, after-hours assignments because “having a job at outdoors or an after-hours assignment significantly increases the exposure risk of contracting COVID-19[FEMININE”

Le vote des quatre démocrates du conseil d’administration a maintenu l’incitation d’une prime de 300 $ pour les employés qui montrent qu’ils ont obtenu leurs vaccins, ainsi que trois jours ou congés supplémentaires pouvant être utilisés au cours des deux prochaines années. Refuser de se faire vacciner coûtera également aux employés du comté, qui perdront 45,51 $ de leurs chèques de paie après que le conseil d’administration a ajouté un supplément au régime d’assurance du comté de Pima géré par Aetna.

Si un employé du comté décidait plus tard de se faire vacciner, le comté a déclaré qu’il rembourserait ces frais.

L’administrateur du comté de Pima, Chuck Huckelberry, a déclaré en octobre que les cas de COVID-19 avaient coûté au comté environ 3,4 millions de dollars, dont environ 1,5 million de dollars pour les soins hospitaliers et 400 000 dollars supplémentaires pour les visites aux urgences. Environ 1004 employés du comté ont eu des infections au COVID-19, sur un effectif de près de 7 000, a-t-il déclaré.

Dans l’ensemble, 207,8 millions de personnes ont été vaccinées aux États-Unis, couvrant environ 74 pour cent de la population américaine. Parmi ceux qui se font vacciner, ce qui inclut toutes les personnes de plus de 5 ans, le taux de vaccination est d’un peu plus de 79 %. 75 millions de plus ont reçu des injections de rappel, couvrant environ 36,5% de la population.

Dans tout l’État, environ 70 % des personnes éligibles à la vaccination ont été vaccinées, ce qui inclut toute personne de plus de 5 ans. Et, l’État a vacciné plus de 3,9 millions de personnes, dont 19 700 autres doses administrées lundi, selon le ministère des Services de santé de l’Arizona.

Cependant, le taux de vaccination varie considérablement d’un comté à l’autre, allant de seulement 45 pour cent dans le comté de La Paz à 130 pour cent dans le comté de Santa Cruz, qui a non seulement vacciné avec succès sa population éligible, mais a également distribué des milliers de doses aux comtés voisins et vacciné des centaines des habitants de Sonora voisine.

L’Arizona se classe au-dessous de 27 autres États dans son taux de vaccination global, loin derrière le Vermont, qui a réussi à vacciner 82 % de la population éligible. L’Alabama est à la dernière place, ne vaccinant que 51,2% des personnes éligibles.

Parmi les États voisins, l’Arizona a réussi à tomber à la dernière place, derrière l’Utah et le Nevada. La Californie est en tête avec 71,2 %, juste devant le Nouveau-Mexique qui en compte 71 %, et le Colorado, qui couvre 70,8 % des personnes éligibles.

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