The Biden team regroups after court loss on shots or tests of covid


Worried but not giving up, President Joe Biden is anxiously pushing ahead to get people to get shots of covid-19 after the Supreme Court put an end to the administration’s extensive vaccination or test plan for large employers.

At a time when hospitals are being overrun and a record number of people are being infected by the omicron variant, the administration hopes that states and companies will order their own vaccination or test requirements. And if the president’s “bully pulpit” still counts as persuasion, Biden intends to use it.

While some in the business community cheered on the defeat of the mandate, Biden insisted that the administration has not been in vain. The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday “does not prevent me from using my vote as president to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and finances,” he said.

The conservative majority of the court completely rejected the occupational safety and health administration’s requirement that employers with 100 or more employees demand that their workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus or tested weekly. However, this meant a vaccination requirement for healthcare staff.

Meanwhile, the White House announced on Friday that the federal website where Americans can request their own free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders next Wednesday. These tests can motivate some people to seek vaccination, and the administration makes sure to address nationwide shortcomings. Accessories will be limited to just four free tests per home.

Website to order free covid tests from the federal government launches next week

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that OSHA seemed to exceed its congressional authority to implement professional standards, saying, “Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not a professional risk in most.”

The mandate was announced in September last year, accompanied by scathing criticism from Biden for the approximately 80 million American adults who have not yet been shot.

“We have had patience. But our patience is running out, and your refusal has cost us all,” he said. The unvaccinated minority, he said, “can cause a lot of harm, and they are.”

In a statement following the Supreme Court ruling, Biden expressed disappointment with the result but said that the mandates have already had the desired effect of reducing the number of unvaccinated adults.

“Today, that number is below 35 million,” he said of the unvaccinated. “Had my administration not introduced vaccination requirements, we would now experience a higher death rate from covid-19 and even more hospital admissions.”

While the court left open the possibility for the United States to fulfill more targeted mandates, White House officials said there were no immediate plans to try to overturn the ordinance.

“It is now up to the states and individual employers to introduce vaccination requirements,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.

The United States “already sucks” with a vaccination rate of 60%, close to the bottom of equal nations, says Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University.

“The OSHA rule was really the president’s last best chance to significantly increase the vaccination rate,” Gostin said. But the court, “in a very partisan way, deliberately tried to handcuff the president when he did what he needed to do.” ‘

Many large companies that had already introduced requirements for vaccination or testing stated that they had no plans to reverse the course. But smaller companies said they breathed a sigh of relief and feared a shortage of workers if the OSHA rule had been allowed to take effect.

The Supreme Court’s decision has “taken a bit of a burden of concern off our shoulders,” said Kyle Caraway, marketing director at Doolittle Trailer Manufacturing, who joined a lawsuit filed by the Missouri Attorney General challenging Biden’s policy. About 90 percent of the 175 employees at Holts Summit, a Missouri-based company, had indicated they would refuse to comply with a vaccination requirement, he said.

“It became clear to us that our team would shrink sharply overnight if that vaccine mandate went in place,” said Caraway, who counted himself among those who opposed Biden’s policies. Stopping production could have forced the company “to consider closing our doors,” he said.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers, said the court decision was a relief for healthcare professionals but leaves others without critical protection.

“By blocking the vaccine-or-test rule for large employers, the court has put millions of other necessary workers further at risk, by bowing to companies trying to rig the rules against workers permanently,” the union said.

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The union called on Congress and the states to pass laws requiring vaccinations, masks and paid sick leave. Workers also need better access to test and protective equipment, the union said.

The renewed debate over vaccination mandates comes when a record number of Americans are hospitalized with covid-19, the country has an average of nearly 800,000 new cases and 1,700 deaths a day, and resistance to vaccines remains a problem, especially in deeply conservative states like Mississippi. , Alabama, Wyoming and Idaho where less than half of the population is fully vaccinated.

Hospitals across the country suffer from chronic staff shortages and are bombarded with people who show up at emergency rooms in need of virus tests. The National Guard’s troops have been activated in dozens of states to help at health centers, nursing homes and test sites.

A hospital on the outskirts of the Kansas City area had to borrow fans from the state of Missouri’s warehouse and hunt for more high-flow acid machines, and the largest county in Kansas said Friday that it’s starting to run out of morgue space – again.

Gostin predicted that the court’s actions would have a major impact on other federal authorities’ efforts to protect public health, by deciding that OSHA could not regulate anything that would have a huge economic impact without the express permission of Congress. And he said that states will not be able to compensate for the impact of the verdict.

“If covid has taught us anything, it has taught us that states cannot handle big, bold problems, can not prevent a pathogen from going from Florida to New York,” he said. “These are national problems that require federal solutions.”

Psaki said the White House would work with companies to promote the benefits of vaccination or testing requirements and that Biden would highlight successful programs.

“The court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to demand this action,” Biden said. So “I urge business leaders to immediately join those who have already grown – including a third of Fortune 100 companies – and introduce vaccination requirements to protect their employees, customers and communities.”



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