A GOP-sponsored bill in Idaho would 'jail' or fine anyone who enforces COVID-19 vaccine mandates

A GOP-sponsored bill in Idaho would 'jail' or fine anyone who enforces COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Idaho has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the United States. Only 47% of Idaho-based adults, according to the Mayo Clinic, are at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19 — compared to 78% in Vermont and 77% in Massachusetts. But instead of encouraging Idaho residents to get vaccinated, a bill being proposed in the Republican-dominated Idaho State Legislature would penalize people for enforcing President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate.

The Idaho Statesman's Hayat Norimine reports that a bill drafted by Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Steve Vick, a Republican, "would charge government officials with a misdemeanor if they violate a state law on immunization, which allows residents to decline to get immunized without 'threat of penalty by the federal government.'"

Norimine explains, "The bill would penalize individuals, not agencies, for the violations. Anyone with a misdemeanor can face up to six months in jail or a $5000 fine, or both."

Biden's vaccine mandate is not a total vaccine mandate. Employees of companies with 100 or more employees who choose not to get vaccinated could submit to a weekly COVID-19 test instead. The COVID-19 pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 4.8 million people worldwide, including over 703,000 in the United States.

Idaho is a deep red state, and Democrats are a minority in the Idaho State Legislature. One Democrat in the Idaho House of Representatives who opposes Vick's bill is Rep. Chris Mathias, who told the Statesman, "We are free to refuse treatments, but we are not free to infect others — and I think that's kind of the underlying question here."

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