AUSTIN, Texas (KTEN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation Friday that prohibits employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

"Employers that violate this law are subject to a $50,000 fine as well as a lawsuit and injunction by the Texas attorney general," the Republican governor said, adding that Senate Bill 7 adds to a previous law that prohibits state and local governments from imposing COVID mandates.

"It's long past time to put COVID behind us and restore individual freedom to all Texans," Abbott said.

The Centers for Disease Control attributed 2.5 percent of all deaths in the U.S. to COVID-19 in the most recent reporting period, October 22-28. The CDC estimates that more than 1.1 million Americans have died since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 6.5 million hospitalizations. 

The "Texas Vaccine Freedom Bill" was passed during the third special session of the 88th Texas Legislature. Lawmakers are now in their fourth special session, focusing on measures to fund private education with tax dollars and border security.