Biden administration asks court to allow vaccine mandate
The Biden administration on Tuesday asked a federal court to let it move ahead with a workplace rule that would require employees at larger companies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face weekly testing.
The mandate is a centerpiece of the administration’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 as concerns grow that the nation is on the cusp of another winter surge in virus cases and hospitalizations.
Republican state attorneys general, conservative organizations and some businesses argued that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lacked the authority to mandate vaccines and were able to persuade a separate federal court to issue a stay of the workplace rule.
In their filing with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for the agency and the Department of Justice said the mandate was needed to reduce transmission of the virus in workplaces "and the grievous harms the virus inflicts on workers.”
It estimated that the vaccine mandate would prevent the deaths of 6,500 workers and the hospitalizations of 250,000 over six months. The pandemic already has killed more than 750,000 in the U.S. since 2020, and cases have been rising rapidly over the past several weeks.
If it stands, the OSHA rule would take effect Jan. 4 and apply to private companies of 100 employees or more, affecting roughly 84 million workers across the U.S. They would have to be vaccinated or be subject to weekly tests and required to wear masks at work. There are exceptions for employees who work from home, alone or outdoors.
A three-judge panel in the New Orleans-based U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay putting the mandate on hold. In a unanimous decision, the panel called the mandate “a one-size fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account...