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Gov McMaster calls federal vaccine mandate illegal overreach

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Thursday he plans to issue an executive order keeping his cabinet agencies from enforcing a federal mandate requiring companies with more than 100 employees to either have their workers vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 weekly.

Under the new order, all state agencies will be required to report to the governor if the federal government asks whether their employees are vaccinated, the Republican governor said at a Thursday news conference.

Earlier Thursday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the rules for the federal vaccine mandate first announced in September by Democratic President Joe Biden.

Companies with over 100 employees that fail to have all their employees vaccinated or get them tested weekly for COVID-19 and wear a mask could face stiff financial penalties.

"We have been stunned at the overreach of the Biden administration. Stunned is the word," McMaster said.

South Carolina joined a lawsuit by Georgia and seven other states fighting against the requirements that federal contractors mandate vaccines for its workers.

"People have reasons to take the vaccine and reasons not to," said McMaster, who is vaccinated and has encouraged other people to at least talk to medical professionals and others and make an informed decision.

The governor said the state is exploring other legal options.

"We will fight every one of them with every legal tool we have," McMaster said.

McMaster's executive order had not been issued as of Thursday afternoon.