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Gov. Noem bans ‘vaccine passports’ in South Dakota

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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order on Tuesday banning ‘vaccine passports’ in the Mount Rushmore State.

“Since the start of the COVID pandemic, we have provided the people of South Dakota with up-to-date science, facts, and data and then trusted them to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones,” said Governor Kristi Noem in a Wednesday press release. “We’ve resisted government mandates, and our state is stronger for it.”

The Republican governor added, “I encourage all South Dakotans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but we are not going to mandate any such activity. And we are not going to restrict South Dakotans’ exercise of their freedoms with un-American policies like vaccine passports. In our state, ‘Under God, the people rule.’ And that is how we will operate for as long as I am governor.”

As noted in the order, South Dakota hasn’t imposed harsh COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic. In fact, the state didn’t close its economy and businesses and didn’t impose a mask mandate.

The recent announcement is consistent with the state’s rationale throughout the pandemic. In fact, Noem’s order notes that “a vaccine passport program could lead to unjustified, non-science-based restrictions on travel, speech, association and other civil rights…”

It also adds that “Vaccine passports could lead to the improper disclosure of private health information and the unjustified use of that private health information to restrict South Dakotans’ access to workplaces, schools, businesses, gatherings, hotels, gyms, restaurants, theaters, music venues, or eve weddings…”

A number of Republican governors across the country have also pushed back on ‘vaccine passports,’ including Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who issued a ban on Monday. Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did the same by signing bans via executive orders.

South Dakota has recorded 106,677 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,953 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the state Health Department. Further, 278,000 South Dakotans have reportedly been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

You can follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer

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American and Southwest stand by vaccine mandate, despite Abbott’s ban

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American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are still planning to comply with President Biden’s executive order regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The order requires all their employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8t. As a result, they will be ignoring Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates.

Abbott announced his own executive order, effectively banning mandates even from private employers, on Tuesday. “In another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” Abbott said. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced.”

Yet both airlines are requiring their employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 24. This comes despite Southwest’s impromptu cancellation of over 2,000 flights over the weekend. At the time, the airline blamed the cancellations on air traffic control and weather conditions. However, SaraACarter.com was unable to verify that any other airline had to cancel near as many flights for the same reasons. This has left many to speculate that Southwest actually cancelled flights due to their employees walking out as a direct result of the mandate.

Reporter Jack Posobiec tweeted out a flyer circulating among the anti-vaxx Southwest employees. Currently, they are planning a protest outside of Southwest headquarters next Monday. The protest will be called “Freedom Not Force.”

Southwest told Reuters it “would be expected to comply with the President’s Order to remain compliant as a federal contractor.” In addition, American similarly said Abbott’s order does not change anything.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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