Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Federal judge dismisses vaccine mandate suit from local government employees

U.S. District Judge David Norton on Feb. 1 permanently dismissed a lawsuit challenging vaccine mandates for employees of Charleston County, the cities of Charleston and North Charleston, and the St. John’s Fire Department.

The first lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 23, 2021, by 25 Charleston County employees, alleged the county’s Sept. 2 vaccine mandate violated the U.S. and S.C. Constitutions. The mandate required all county employees, volunteers and interns to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 7. Similar suits against measures in the other three entities were filed shortly after. The suits were later merged. 

Employees who worked for the county, cities and department were required to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in the fall or risk being fired. Employees had the option to request religious or medical exemptions. Norton previously denied a request to block the mandates from taking effect in October.

Charleston County reported 96% of its employees were fully vaccinated by the Nov. 7 deadline. Fifty of its employees requested medical or religious exemptions and six were terminated.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials on Wednesday reported 4,860 total new cases of COVID-19, with 3,038 confirmed. They also reported 101 new deaths, 70 of which were confirmed.

With 11,041 tests reported Wednesday, 33.6% were positive.

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 66.6%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 57.2%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 17.2%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 12%

For more information, visit the S.C. DHEC COVID-19 dashboard.