Gov. Noem bans ‘vaccine passports’ in South Dakota

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.

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