Joe Biden gives an update on federal surge response to Omicron
The Supreme Court has tossed out a Biden administration vaccine mandate that would have required 80 million workers to either get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.
In a blow to the president’s push to get more Americans vaccinated, the ruling comes as health experts believe that the US may be approaching the peak of the latest wave of Covid-19 brought on by the highly contagious Omicron variant.
Dr Anthony Fauci has defended remarks made during a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director was heard calling Senator Roger Marshall “a moron” when the senator questioned if he should have a publicly available financial disclosure form on Tuesday.
Dr Fauci told MSNBC on Wednesday that he was stunned to know “that a sitting United States senator doesn’t realise that my financial statement is public knowledge”.
The infectious diseases expert also clashed with Senator Rand Paul during the hearing, who he accused of politicising the pandemic and “kindling the crazies” with his remarks. Dr Paul has since doubled down on his remarks.
Dozens of scientists and medical professionals have signed a letter defending Dr Fauci from criticism that is “inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded in the facts and, increasingly, motivated by partisan politics”.
What did the court decide?
The Supreme Court voted 6-3 along ideological lines to toss out Joe Biden’s mandate for businesses requiring those with more than 100 workers to institute vaccination or regular testing requirements.
A second 5-4 ruling in the court allowed the administration’s requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated to remain in place. Conservative justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberal justices on that decision.
However, the first ruling is nevertheless a major blow to the plan the president announced last year.
In their majority opinion, the six justices wrote that although Covid-19 was indeed a hazard faced by many employees at their workplaces, it did not fall under the legal definition of an “occupational hazard” that OSHA, the US government agency which enforces labour standards, could regulate.
Trump issues statement on SCOTUS decision
Former President Donald Trump has released a statement through his spokesperson Liz Harrington”
The Supreme Court has spoken, confirming what we all knew: Biden’s disastrous mandates are unconstitutional. Biden promised to shut down the virus, not the economy but he has failed miserably on both — and mandates would have further destroyed the economy. We are proud of the Supreme Court for not backing down. No mandates!
SCOTUS: Most noteworthy congressional action on vaccine mandate was disapproval
Justices note in their decision that the “most noteworthy action concerning the vaccine mandate by either House of Congress has been a majority vote of Senate disapproving the regulation on December 8, 2021.”
Ron Klain and Alyssa Farah trade tweets about SCOTUS decision
Mike Pence’s former press secretary Alyssa Farah shared her thoughts on the Biden vaccine strategy and received a response from current White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
Ms Farah tweeted: “Problem with Biden’s vaccine strategy from the outset: 1) he completely skipped over trying to educate & persuade vaccine skeptics & went straight to mandates, which makes many skeptics dig in their heels 2) Virtually no one thought the mandate would ultimately hold up in Court.”
She added: “So here we are: people are as divided as ever on vaccines. I have to wonder if spending a few months engaging in targeted public awareness campaigns dispelling fears & myths about the vaccine would have done more good in terms of getting shots in arms.”
Concluding: “I know a few smart women who were nervous to get the vaccine before getting pregnant or when getting pregnant. And as much as we’d like to assume everyone’s personal doc is telling them the medical consensus, some aren’t. These people are persuadable.”
Mr Klain responded to her initial tweet, writing: “We didn’t impose ANY vaccine requirements until August, and the one the Court stayed today was not announced until September. These requirements were used only after persuasion, incentives ($100 to get a vax), and final FDA approval were all in place.”
To which Ms Farah responded: “FAIR. But I think we need MORE persuasion. Some people will never budge – but I believe many Americans are scared because they’ve received bad, false info. There’s rampant misinfo on women &fertility-that needs to be combatted.”
White House will continue to do hard things
Asked by a reporter about the next steps for the administration in the context that “things just seem like they’re going pretty right now for the White House”, Jen Psaki responds by citing successes and by saying they will continue to do hard things.
President Biden’s statement on SCOTUS vaccine mandate decision
My administration began to institute vaccination requirements last July, when after months of making vaccinations free and widely available, 90 million Americans were still unvaccinated. Today, that number is down to under 35 million. These vaccine requirements applied to members of the Armed Forces, federal workers and contractors, health care workers, and employees in large firms. Had my administration not put vaccination requirements in place, we would be now experiencing a higher death toll from COVID-19 and even more hospitalizations.
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the requirement for health care workers will save lives: the lives of patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work there. It will cover 10.4 million health care workers at 76,000 medical facilities. We will enforce it.
At the same time, I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law. This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden.
As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated. The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy. I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one-third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.
We have to keep working together if we want to save lives, keep people working, and put this pandemic behind us.
White House will still push employers to require vaccinations
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that the Biden administration will continue to call on employers to institute their own vaccine requirements despite the Supreme Court striking down the OSHA vaccine mandate.
Covid ‘hazard of daily life’ not specifically occupational
Per the Supreme Court decision blocking the Biden vaccine mandate on private employers:
“Although Covid–19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. Covid–19 can and does spread at home, in schools … and everywhere else that people gather.”
“Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life — simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock — would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorisation.”
Democratic Party reacts to Supreme Court ruling
DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa released the following statement:
Today’s ruling does not change the fact the best way to put this pandemic behind us and keep people safe is to get Americans vaccinated. Nor does it change the fact that it is Republican leaders, governors, senators, and House members who continue to dangerously undermine vaccines, elevate anti-vaxxers, and echo conspiracy theories on a daily basis to cater to a fringe, unvaccinated group.
Thankfully, the American people elected President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Democrats who will continue to work tirelessly to get shots in arms, get people back to work, keep kids in schools, and ultimately put this pandemic behind us once and for all — regardless of Republicans’ best efforts to stand in the way.
Bill Gates bewildered by vaccine conspiracy theories about him
In a Twitter interview with Professor Devi Sridhar, head of the Global Health Governance Programme, Mr Gates said he can’t understand why some theorists think he wants to inject people with microchips.
“People like you and I and Tony Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation,” the multibillionaire said. “I didn’t expect that. Some of it, like me putting chips in arms, doesn’t make sense to me – why would I want to do that?”
Nathan Place reports.