SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has joined a handful of governors who have issued executive orders banning the development or use of COVID-19 vaccine passports in their states.
Vaccine passports are documents that could be used to verify coronavirus immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine.
South Dakota has resisted government mandates and the state “is stronger for it,” Noem said Wednesday in a statement. She encouraged all residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine but said the state will not require it.
“We are not going to restrict South Dakotans’ exercise of their freedoms with un-American policies like vaccine passports. In our state, ‘Under God, the people rule.’ And that is how we will operate for as long as I am governor,” Noem said.
South Dakota ranks 18th in the country for new COVID-19 cases per capita in the last two weeks and its death rate over the course of the pandemic is eighth highest, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.
The governors of Florida, Texas, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, and Utah have issued executive orders against vaccine passport systems, citing government overreach into personal freedom and private health choices. New York was the first state to institute a passport system.