Many Pima County workers face termination in the new year

Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 7:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Some Pima County employees will face termination at the end of the week for failing to comply with the county’s mandate that anyone who works with a vulnerable population must be vaccinated by Jan. 1 as a condition of employment.

Acting County Administrator Jan Lesher released a report which says 122 of those employees work in the sheriff’s department. Most of them are corrections officers at the Pima County Jail.

However, Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos told News 13 there are far fewer than the 122.

“So this is guesswork, a feel for the employees” he said. “We’re hearing ten to 15 and it could be less than ten, but that’s our best guess.”

According to Nanos, the deputies have been slow to turn in paperwork showing they’ve been vaccinated or have received an exemption.

“It’s Monday morning quarterbacking, is maybe we should have said you will be mandated to get a vaccine and you’re also mandated to report on this system,” he said. “And that wasn’t being done.”

“This” system is the county tracking system for all employees who’ve been exempted or vaccinated.

He believes the issue is that paperwork hasn’t caught up with real time yet but admits that should not be happening.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors by a 4-1 vote, passed a vaccine mandate for all workers who deal with a vulnerable population. There were 2,095 identified in the county workforce.

As per the county report, 213 remain unvaccinated with a majority being corrections officers.

Inmates at the jail are considered a vulnerable population. Three have died of COVID-19 and seven have recently tested positive. There just a bit more than 1,500 inmates incarcerated at the jail.

There has been a concern about the jail losing so many corrections officers and what it might do to staffing but Nanos says the jail could handle the terminations if it comes to that.

But he adds it will not likely be as many as first thought.

“Whether it’s 122 or 24, we will go back to those people and say, do you have your vaccine card registered,” he said. “If not, they’ll move on.”

Nanos believes they will have a better handle on the number following the holiday on Jan. 3..

The county has given the employees until Jan. 7 but they will not be able to work after the first of the year.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.