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GOP advances bill to count prior COVID infection as immunity

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican lawmakers are advancing a bill that would require employers to count a prior COVID-19 infection as an alternative to vaccination and testing.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that the measure came up for a public hearing Tuesday. Republican lawmakers and bill supporters spent most of the hearing testifying about how they consider natural immunity resulting from an infection to be at least as effective as being vaccinated.

No one spoke against the bill but several Wisconsin medical groups oppose it, including the Wisconsin Medical Society. They argue vaccination is the best way to protect against COVID-19 and it’s unclear how long natural immunity lasts. Data from the state health department shows unvaccinated people are hospitalized at a rate nearly 11 times higher than fully vaccinated people.

Similar bills passed in Florida and Arkansas last year but Gov. Tony Evers almost certainly would veto the Wisconsin proposal if it reaches his desk. Evers and Republicans have been at odds over how to handle the pandemic since it began in 2020. Last year the Evers vetoed a GOP bill that would have barred public health officials from requiring people get vaccinated.

The state Department of Administration in October began requiring workers in executive branch agencies to get fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

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