South Dakota Gov. Noem Signs Order to ‘Protect’ State Employees From Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday signed an executive order she says will “protect” state employees against President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate by allowing them to easily obtain medical and religious exemptions.

“South Dakota is fighting back against the heavy hand of @JoeBiden & his Administration,” the Republican governor announced on Twitter. “Today I signed an Executive Order to protect state employees, & those w/ federal contracts who are being forced to get vaccinated against their wishes. The order protects medical & religious exemptions for these workers.”

“Additionally, I am working w/ legislators on addressing other areas. I have always said the decision to get vaccinated should be a personal choice-not a mandate from Joe Biden, Fauci or your boss,” she added.

Noem said the move was necessary to ensure that employees aren’t forced to get COVID-19 vaccinations under  Biden’s initiative, which covers not only people directly paid by federal contracts but also anyone who works to support them.

State lawmakers have said South Dakotans are being denied medical and religious exemptions from feds and have called for a special session to stop it.

Noem spokesman Jordan Overturf said Noem’s exemptions are “explicit and offer a clear path” for state workers to opt-out of the shots.

In a press release from Noem’s office, the governor said that employees who wish to receive a medical exemption from the vaccine mandate need a note from a doctor stating that the COVID-19 vaccination is too risky for health reasons.

Workers who wish to be exempted for religious reasons must fill out a form from the Bureau of Human Resources that states that they “dissent and object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds, which includes moral, ethical, and philosophical beliefs or principles.”

“Due to established precedent, this Executive Order does not apply to service members with the South Dakota National Guard who must meet federal readiness responsibilities for deployment,” the release adds.

By Isabel van Brugen

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