Arizona governor quietly bans all public worker vaccination mandates

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the executive order but did not announce it.
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Doug Ducey
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In an unannounced executive order regarding enhanced monitoring of COVID-19 metrics, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey banned public employers from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

The order, signed Wednesday, primarily reactivates the state’s “enhanced surveillance advisory,” which requires most hospitals to provide consistent updates on ventilators, ICU beds, inpatient beds, ED beds, number of patients pending transfer out of hospitalization, as well as more detailed COVID-19 patient data.

One line stands out.

“No person shall be required by this state, or any city, town or county, to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine but a health care institution licensed pursuant to A.R.S. Title 36, Chapter 4 may require the institution’s employees to be vaccinated,” the order reads.

The governor’s office was not available for comment on the addition Thursday afternoon.

Will Humble, director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former top doctor under Ducey, said the governor is misusing his executive powers.

“I would say 'unbelievable' but it's totally believable,” he said Thursday.

Arizona House Democrats said Ducey is making the pandemic more severe.

“Tying the hands of local governments that want to take steps to prevent the spread of #COVID19 just deepens and prolongs the pandemic,” the caucus tweeted Thursday.

The order means the City of Tucson, which in August voted to require its 4,000 employees be vaccinated by Dec. 1, could be in for another court battle.

The city won various legal challenges from Republicans and even its police union to maintain its vaccination mandate. As of Dec. 1., Nearly 100% of employees are either vaccinated or have been granted an exemption.