As state COVID-19 cases fall, lawmakers stop vaccine mandates

Published 1:00 pm Friday, April 1, 2022

The Mississippi Legislator has been grappling with COVID-19 vaccination requirements concerning the federal government’s mandate over states’ employees’ vaccination statuses.

Now both the Mississippi House and Senate have voted to adopt the conference report on House Bill 1509, a bill prohibiting state and local governments from imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, reported March 31.

Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to sign the bill.

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Speaker of the House Philip Gunn (R) introduced the bill in January. It calls the mandate an unlawful, discriminatory practice “for a state agency, public official, state institution of higher learning, public community or junior college, county, municipality or other political subdivision of the state to refuse, withhold from, or deny to a person any local or state services, goods, facilities, advantages, privileges, licensing, educational opportunities, health care access, or employment opportunities based on the person’s COVID-19 vaccination status or whether the person has an immunity passport.” Health care facilities are exempt from compliance.

This finale bill is just one of many filed since the beginning of the year for the 2022 Legislative session addressing a vaccine or mask mandates within schools.

Many elected officials spoke against attempts to implement vaccine mandates. President Joe Biden’s Sept. 2021 executive order mandating vaccines for federal employees has since been blocked by the United States Supreme Court.

Mississippi’s senators are not happy with vaccine mandates and cheer on the new state legislation. Sen. Roger Wicker reportedly said though he encourages Americans to get vaccinated, he feels it’s inappropriate for the federal government to demand it. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith agrees, saying “the United States is not China or some other tyrannical country. President Biden exceeded his authority in his rush to force the vaccines on the American people.”

View the conference report for HB 1509 here.

As of March 31, there were 131 new cases of COVID-19 and one death. The percentage of the total population fully vaccinated stood at 51 percent.

As of March 30, as reported by the Mississippi Department of Health, there were 67 new cases as of March 28, and 31 by March 30. That brings the total state cases to 794,558.

There have been 15 new deaths, with two occurring between March 30 and April 2; three occurring between March 14 and March 27, and 10 between Jan. 13 and March 22. All together, there have been 12,398 deaths in Mississippi from COVID-19 infections.

The following counties suffered the loss of at least one resident from COVID-19 in March: Amite, Coahoma, Covington, Jones, Madison, Neshoba, Sunflower, Union and Webster.

Currently, there are 11 outbreaks in long-term facilities.