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Arizona governor BANS public universities from demanding students get Covid-19 vaccines, wear masks in class

“The vaccine works, and we encourage Arizonans to take it. But it is a choice and we need to keep it that way,” Ducey said on Tuesday, announcing the order. “Public education is a public right, and taxpayers are paying for it. We need to make our public universities available for students to return to learning. They have already missed out on too much learning.”

Ducey’s order exempts medical students or those working with patients, and does not prevent colleges from encouraging vaccinations and voluntary mask usage or providing testing.

The order applies to Arizona State University in Tempe, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and the University of Arizona in Tucson – along with its College of Applied Science & Technology in Sierra Vista.

According to local media, the Republican governor’s order appears to be directly related to Monday’s announcement by the Arizona State University that students arriving on campus for in-person classes in August will be fully vaccinated.

The university believes “it is imperative for the health and well-being of our community for all to be vaccinated,” ASU said in the statement. 

Students who do not agree to disclose their vaccination status, or cannot be vaccinated for whatever reason, will be “required to participate” in ongoing “health management protocols” – starting with a daily health check, Covid-19 testing up to twice a week, and wearing a mask “in all indoor and outdoor spaces on ASU campuses.”

If implemented, this would run afoul of the governor’s orders. ASU has not yet commented on the matter, and Monday’s coronavirus update remains up on their site.

While several coronavirus vaccines are widely available in the US, they have only been granted emergency use authorization by federal regulators. As a result, many states – mainly governed by Republicans – have been skeptical of mandating their use.

On Saturday, however, a federal judge in Texas shut down a lawsuit by over 100 employees of the Houston Methodist hospital system, arguing they are a private employer with the right to mandate vaccination.

The employees can “freely choose to accept or refuse a Covid-19 vaccine,” said Judge Lynn Hughes, and if they decline, they will “simply need to work somewhere else.”

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