TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Reinstating a county-wide mask mandate was on the agenda for Pima County Supervisors Tuesday---but the issue was dropped. Supervisors did vote for insurance penalties for county workers who refuse the vaccine.
Pima County supervisors already decided not to require COVID vaccinations for county workers but they tried to use a carrot and stick approach.
In an earlier meeting, they settled on the carrot---a $300 bonus for workers who get the shots or who’ve already been vaccinated.
Now, they’ve settled on the stick---insurance penalties that could cost a county worker more than $1,500 a year.
District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy voted against the plan. He regards the plan as pressuring workers in a way that could lead to liability for the county.
District 2 Supervisor and Medical Doctor Matt Heinz asked for agenda items to consider requiring COVID vaccine for all health workers, and consider re-imposing indoor mask mandates county wide. He dropped both ideas.
On Twitter he said he still supports the proposals but felt Supervisors would not vote for them, and the discussions led to comments from the public that spread misinformation.
Supervisors approved a plan to spend more than $2 million to use a motel as a quarantine shelter for people who crossed the Mexican border to seek asylum in the U.S.
Supervisor Christy says he was dismissed when he raised concerns asylum seekers could add to community spread. He sees the motel plan as confirming his fears.
“Well, it looks like we've got a $2 million problem that requires taking over completely a motel, 179 rooms at $130 a night, not only to house COVID infected asylum seekers, but to give them shelter, food, and medication.”
District 1 Supervisor Rex Scott says the County is using Federal, not County dollars in a responsible plan to protect the health of the community and asylum seekers. He was careful to say he was not directing his comments to Supervisor Christy when he said:
“It is important to point out these facts that I just did, because there's been a good deal of deceitful fear mongering rhetoric propagated in the community with regard to this item by those seeking to further their own crass political ends, and these people want to debate federal immigration law, there are other venues when they can do, where they can do so.”
The motel plan would run for four months, with an option to extend.