Politics Indiana GOP Lawmakers Pushing Bill With Natural Immunity as a COVID Vaccine Exemption
Novak Djokovic granted Australian Open medical exemption
Novak Djokovic has been granted an Australian Open medical exemption after repeatedly refusing to say whether he has received a coronavirus vaccine. © Provided by NBC Sports In social media posts Tuesday, Djokovic said he has “exemption permission” and is traveling to Australia to compete, signaling that he may be allowed to play the Australian Open without the otherwise mandated coronavirus vaccine.
Republican Indiana lawmakers want natural immunity to COVID-19 from a previous infection to exempt certain residents from workplace vaccination requirements. The Indiana House, which is dominated by GOP lawmakers, may be able to debate approving the measures as soon as next week after a committee endorsed the bill in a 7-4 vote Thursday.
The contentious proposal has drawn criticism from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and GOPleaders who have said that it hinders the ability of private businesses to make decisions. The idea of using natural immunity instead of vaccines as protection against contracting and transmitting the virus has also been called into question by medical studies.
Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Held in Guarded Room in Australia After Reported Visa Mix-Up
Djokovic announced Tuesday that he had received a medical exemption to COVID vaccine requirements that would allow him to play in the upcoming Australian Open. © Juan Naharro/Getty Images for Lexus Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand against Marin Cilic of Croatia during the Davis Cup Semi Final match between Croatia and Serbia at Madrid Arena pavilion Monday in Madrid, Spain. Djokovic is reportedly being held in a room without being allowed to leave while an issue with his visa and a COVID vaccine medical exemption is figured out.
The bill, which already included required medical or religious exemptions, would force employers to accept medical test results showing some level of infection-generated virus immunity in lieu of vaccination. It would make anyone who was fired for not getting a mandated COVID-19 vaccine eligible for unemployment benefits.
Republican House Majority Leader Matt Lehman said that companies could only ask employees for proof of natural immunity through another medical test once every six months. If COVID fighting antibodies are no longer detected, then "you'll be back and subject to the other exemptions because you can't show that immunity," Lehman said.
The House action follows conservative criticism of President's vaccine requirements for certain workers and two lengthy public hearings dominated by grievances over government-ordered virus precautions. Health experts argued that the limitations would hurt efforts to stem COVID-19 spread while the state's hospitals are strained with their highest overall patient counts.
Postal Service requests temporary exemption from Biden's vaccine rule
An agency spokesperson said a waiver would "ensure that its ability to deliver mail and packages is not hindered."The request comes just days before the Biden administration's rule is slated to take effect, and as the highly transmissible omicron variant sidelines workers in various parts of the economy.
The fast-spreading omicron variant has pushed Indiana's number of confirmed COVID-19 infections to an average of more than 9,000 a day, according to state Health Department tracking. That is the highest level during the pandemic as Indiana's hospitals were treating nearly 3,300 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday — a number that is up about 170 percent from two months ago and the highest since mid-December 2020 before the vaccines were widely available.
Indiana's vaccination rate has stagnated for months despite pleas from Holcomb and medical groups for more people to get the shots. Indiana has the country's ninth-lowest rate for a fully vaccinated population at 52.1 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Republican House Speaker Todd Huston said people need to take responsibility for protecting themselves against COVID-19 and that he didn't believe businesses could rely on vaccinations to prevent spread among their employees.
What really tripped up Djokovic at Australia's border?
Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic's Australian visa disaster may be down to a subtle but important difference in the Covid-19 vaccination rules for either playing in the Australian Open or getting into the country. But the difference between the Australian Open's Covid-19 exemption rules and Australia's immigration regulations may have caught out other tennis players or staff, too. Two other players or staff attending the Australian Open are also now being investigated, the home affairs minister has confirmed.
"I think what we now have seen is that there was a belief that if we all got vaccinated, we could stop the spread, right? And we aren't stopping the spread," Huston said. "Vaccination protects me. It protects me. It doesn't mean that I can't give it to you."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Watch Celtics vs. Pacers: TV channel, live stream info, start time .
How to watch Celtics vs. Pacers basketball gameThe experts predicted a victory for the Boston Celtics, but it's no sure thing at this point. At halftime neither squad has the game in the bag, but Boston leads 42-39 over the Indiana Pacers.