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Proposed bill in South Carolina would make it a crime to ask for someone's COVID-19 vaccination status

Rep. Sandy McGarry of Lancaster is one of the co-sponsors.

LANCASTER, S.C. — A handful of South Carolina lawmakers are proposing a bill that would make it a crime to ask about someone's COVID-19 vaccination status. 

House Bill 4848 is sponsored by six lawmakers, including Rep. Sandy McGarry of Lancaster. The bill was introduced on Jan. 20 and is currently in committee. No votes have been taken at this time.

"I would like to see everybody jump on board," McGarry said about the bill. "Your history, your medical history, all of that, because I come from the medical field working with cardiologists for years, it's all about you. It's not my business. It's between you, your doctor and your family. If you want to be vaccinated, that's fine. I'm not going to ask you if you are or you aren't. It's up to you."

As presented, the bill would establish "criminal liability" in certain circumstances for asking about another person's vaccination status. 

You can read a section of the bill below: 

"Section 44-29-56. Notwithstanding another provision of law to the contrary, any employee, officer, agent, or other representative of a public, nonprofit, or private entity who inquires about the COVID-19 vaccination status of any student, employee, member, or anyone else seeking admission on the entity's premises is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than fourteen thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

McGarry said the idea came from seeing other states like California and New York require restaurants to ask vaccination status of customers. She added she didn't want to see that happen in South Carolina. 

"It was more of a push against the unvaccinated," she explained. "That's where this bill originated, so you couldn't be biased against unvaccinated people."

The lawmaker said she's received support from people in Lancaster for joining onto the bill.

"I love to get out there and let everybody know what's going on in the statehouse," McGarry said. "If I get a lot of people who don't like it, I'm coming off that bill. I'm there to represent the people who elected me." 

I will be signing on to this bill today with my colleague Bill Chumley. It is no one's business whether you are...

Posted by State Representative Sandy McGarry, SC House District 44 on Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Rep. James Burns, Rep. Patrick Haddon, Rep. Steven Long, Rep. William Chumley and Rep. Victor Dabney are the other Republican Party lawmakers to sign on to the bill.

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WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.   

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