Feds respond to court-ordered halt on vaccination mandate: 8 takeaways

President Joe Biden's administration issued a response Nov. 8 after a federal appeals court in New Orleans suspended a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for private employers with more than 100 employees. 

Eight takeaways:

1. The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an emergency temporary standard Nov. 4 outlining COVID-19 vaccination requirements for employers with 100 or more employees. The standard is expected to cover 84 million private-sector workers and two-thirds of the U.S. private-sector workforce. 

2. OSHA said businesses covered by the emergency temporary standard must put in place a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing and wear a face covering at work. Under the standard, employers also must provide paid time off to workers to get inoculated and provide paid leave to employees to recover from any side effects.

3. On Nov. 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans suspended the vaccination requirement after a group of plaintiffs — including Louisiana, Utah, Texas, South Carolina and Mississippi — filed a lawsuit Nov. 5 questioning OSHA's authority to issue such a rule. 

4. In the Fifth Circuit decision, a panel of three judges wrote there is "cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate."

5. The Fifth Circuit decision — which is not a ruling on policy merits — temporarily stops the vaccination requirement while the court conducts a more thorough review.

6. President Biden's administration argued Nov. 8 that the federal government is within its authority in issuing the emergency temporary standard, according to The New York Times, which cites a 28-page filing before the Fifth Circuit. The administration also urged the Fifth Circuit not to block the vaccine mandate for businesses, noting that a testing requirement would not take effect until January, and said plaintiffs "have not shown that their claimed injuries outweigh the harm of staying a standard that will save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations."

7. Moving forward, the Fifth Circuit will decide whether to reverse its suspension or permanently block the mandate as other legal challenges are filed in other courts, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reported many pending challenges could be grouped together before an appeals court later in November.

8. The White House said on Nov. 8 that businesses should still continue making progress related to the federal vaccine and testing requirements, according to CNBC, even with the court-ordered halt in place. "People should not wait," White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, the news channel reported. "They should continue to move forward and make sure they're getting their workplace vaccinated."

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