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SC lawmakers advance COVID-19 vaccine-mandate ban

A panel of South Carolina legislators Tuesday advanced a proposal that would effectively make COVID-19 vaccine mandates for state and local government employees, contractors and public school students illegal.

The drafted bill would also forbid private companies from suspending or firing employees regardless of vaccination status, but does allow for weekly testing requirements.

The move comes as the omicron variant continues to spread and while multiple studies look at how it fares against existing measures and vaccines. The first in-depth laboratory study of the omicron variant of the coronavirus offered some good news and some bad news.

The study, released Tuesday by the African Health Research Institute, found the variant is slippery, eluding protection provided by antibodies from previous infection. But results also hinted that omicron still has a tough time against at least the Pfizer vaccine, and booster shots could be a key weapon against the new variant.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 866 total cases of COVID-19 Dec. 8, with 526 confirmed. A total of 17 new deaths, with 13 confirmed, were also reported.

With 13,726 tests reported Wednesday, 5.4% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 63.6%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 55.3%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 8.6%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 3.3%