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Bill banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates heads to Ducey's desk

Republican state senators approved a bill to ban the government at the state, county or municipal level from mandating vaccines for COVID-19 or any variant of the virus.

The bill sponsored by GOP Rep. Jake Hoffman sets in stone a policy already carried out by Gov. Doug Ducey, who issued executive orders barring governments from requiring vaccines at any point during the pandemic.

Having already been approved by the House, the bill now awaits Ducey’s signature or veto.

At this point, Will Humble, the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, said he’s not concerned about the adverse impact a ban on vaccine mandates could have so late in the pandemic.

“If this were something, a bill that would’ve passed in the 2020 session, or even in the 2021 session, then I could say, ‘OK, this could have some potential consequences,’” Humble said.

Arizona has the third-highest death rate for COVID-19 in the nation, trailing only New York City and Mississippi, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.