Vaccine mandate news – live: Republicans ‘will not comply’ with DC mandate after Supreme Court blocks Biden

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LIVE – Updated at 10:40

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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Key points

  • Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate
  • Has Omicron peaked in the US?
  • Rand Paul: Fauci ‘ deserves everything he gets’
  • Scientists and medical professionals rally around Fauci
  • ‘Urgent need’ for super vaccine as other variants emerge

Less than One-Third of Voters Trust Coronavirus Information from Fauci – Poll

10:10 , ella glover

A NewsNation poll of 1,000 voters taken this week found that less than a third (30.8 percent) trust Dr Anthony Fauci when it comes to coronavirus information.

The question asked participants to select from a list of sources who they trusted when it comes to information about Covid-19. They could choose more than one answer.

Listed were Dr Fauci (30.8 percent), President Biden (15. percent), federal health authorities (49.8 percent), your doctor (63.2 percent) and the news media (10.2 percent).

It said there was a margin of error of 5.8 percent.

Former Trump adviser Steve Cortes hit out at Dr Fauci when he shared the results on Twitter Thursday.

Biden urges businesses to institute their own vaccine mandates

09:10 , Ella Glover

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to halt the Biden administration’s plans to introduce a vaccine mandate for large businesses, the president said he was “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.”

He called on businesses to institute their own vaccination requirements, noting that a third of Fortune 100 companies already have done so.

The US companies that have their own vaccine mandates include Door Dash, Deloitte, McDonalds, Google, Facebook and more.

Covid-19 pills shortages as Omicron rages

06:44 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Two new Covid-19 pills from Pfizer and Merck that were meant to be crucial to fighting the pandemic are in short supply and have played little role in fighting the Omicron surge .

The Biden administration ordered the two pills late last month, which would reduce the burden on hospitals.

However it did not place mass orders as it did with vaccines, reported Associated Press.

Pfizer said that as its pill Paxlovid, takes six to eight months to manufacture, it can supply only about 250,000 courses of the treatment by the end of this month.

Merck’s pill, Molnupiravir, was produced in greater advance quantities but final testing showed the drug was far less effective than Pfizer’s pill.

It also contains potential side effects for pregnant women and is considered to be a last option, according to federal government guidelines.

While the federal government has sent 164,000 Pfizer pills to states, allocating them by population-health officials in states said they are inadequate.

There is also shortage of antibody medications, with federal officials limiting shipments to 50,000 doses per week.

© Provided by The Independent Pfizer’s Covid-19 pill Paxlovid (Pfizer)

19 states have less than 15% ICU capacity

06:10 , Sravasti Dasgupta

As Omicron cases surge across the US, hospitals have been left overwhelmed.

Data from the US department of health and human services showed that 19 states have less than 15 per cent intensive care capacity as hospitalisations continue to soar.

These include Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and New Hampshire, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.

The data also showed that hospitals in four of these states, Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and New Hampshire have less than 10 per cent capacity for intensive care.

As of Wednesday, hospitalisations across the US have reached a record high of 151,261.

© Provided by The Independent Medical personnel seen at a New York hospital (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Why Anthony Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’

05:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, found his way into the headlines this week after he was heard on a hot mic calling a GOP senator a “moron” during a committee hearing.

It comes after a wave of unrelenting criticism from conservatives, writes John Bowden.

© Provided by The Independent

Here’s why Anthony Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’

Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’, says Rand Paul

04:40 , Oliver O’Connell

Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Dr Anthony Fauci “deserves” criticism for his handling of Covid and told The Independent he ‘resented’ the US chief medical adviser blaming him for threats made against the top infectious diseases expert.

Gino Spocchia reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Rand Paul says Dr Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’

Biden administration to send medical teams to six states

04:34 , Sravasti Dasgupta

President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the federal government will be sending medical teams to six states to help with Covid-19 care where hospitals and healthcare systems have been overwhelmed by the spread of the Omicron variant.

Military medical teams will be sent to New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico.

The teams will support the healthcare systems in major hospitals in the states.

A defence official said that more than 40 medical teams from the Army, Air Force and Navy that include a total of 1,000 active duty military medical personnel are available.

Teams will continue to be mobilized and deployed where they are needed in the coming weeks.

A White House official says that this is a “first wave of deployments,” and other teams will also be sent to areas where they’re needed.

© Provided by The Independent President Joe Biden speaks about the government’s COVID-19 response (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

US surgeon general ‘disappointed’ with SCOTUS blocking vaccine mandate

04:19 , Sravasti Dasgupta

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has said that the Supreme Court’s decision to block a nationwide vaccine and testing mandate for large businesses, is “disappointing.”

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Dr Murthy said, “As a doctor and a public health professional today’s news was disappointing.”

“We know that the requirements for vaccines in workplaces are an important part of how we can keep workplaces safer, for both workers as well as for customers.”

He added that as the US records surging cases driven by the Omicron variant, the next few weeks will remain challenging.

“I think the next few weeks are going to be challenging. We are going to continue to see high numbers of cases. Our hospital systems in parts of the country are strained and that will continue,” he said.

© Provided by The Independent Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks at a news conference on 8 December 2020 (Getty Images)

SCOTUS halts Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

03:45 , Oliver O’Connell

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to toss out Joe Biden’s mandate for businesses requiring those with more than 100 workers to institute vaccination or regular testing requirements on Thursday.

John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.

© Provided by The Independent

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

KN95 and N95: What you need to know

02:45 , Oliver O’Connell

As the US fights to slow the spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant, reports have surfaced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering recommending that those who can should wear a higher standard of mask when in public – specifically the KN95 and N95 masks that have been in high demand for the last two years.

© Provided by The Independent

KN95 and N95 masks: Which does the CDC recommend, and can you reuse them?

Coming soon: Free masks and 1 billion Covid tests

01:45 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden said his administration will unveil a plan to provide free masks to Americans, to encourage their use in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden also said on Thursday that his administration will order another half-billion at-home Covid-19 tests for mailing to any American who requests one on a yet-to-be unveiled website, adding to a previous order of 500 million placed by the administration last month.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden to make free masks available and order half-billion Covid tests for mailing

ABC News criticised for editing CDC director interview

00:45 , Oliver O’Connell

ABC News is under fire for its editing of a “Good Morning America” interview with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky that created uncertainty that’s being exploited by vaccine critics.

© Provided by The Independent

ABC News draws fire for editing of CDC director’s interview

Ruling does not prevent employers from requiring vaccination

Thursday 13 January 2022 23:20 , Oliver O’Connell

The Scotus ruling does not prevent private employers from requiring vaccination, nor does it undermine existing workplace vaccination requirements that were put in place voluntarily by employers.

The White House will continue to encourage private employers to institute their own mandates.

NBC News: 1 million new cases of Covid in 24 hours

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:45 , Oliver O’Connell

NBC News reports that the number of Covid-19 cases in the US has now topped 63 million since the start of the pandemic.

There were 1 million new cases in 24 hours from the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Before mandates there were incentives

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:30 , Oliver O’Connell

Before the White House introduced vaccine mandates in the late summer of 2021, the vaccine had been available for almost nine months.

To encourage take-up, a number of incentive schemes around the country received White House support.

Ben Wakana of the Covid-19 response team provides a few examples:

SCOTUS decision doesn’t change reality of pandemic

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:15 , Oliver O’Connell

If you are unvaccinated you are far more likely to get hospitalised and die from Covid-19.

Flashback: OSHA — small agency, big job

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:00 , Oliver O’Connell

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t make many headlines. Charged with keeping America’s workplaces safe, it usually busies itself with tasks such as setting and enforcing standards for goggles, hardhats, and ladders.

And then it was directed to write a rule requiring employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccines or produce weekly test results.

© Provided by The Independent

Small agency, big job: Biden tasks OSHA with vaccine mandate

What did the court decide?

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:40 , Oliver O’Connell

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.

© Provided by The Independent

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Trump issues statement on SCOTUS decision

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:25 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:21 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:14 , Oliver O’Connell

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.”

She added: “Happy to help however I can.” #GetVaxxed #GetBoosted

White House will continue to do hard things

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:10 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:02 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:00 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:51 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:41 , Oliver O’Connell

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

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:33 , Oliver O’Connell

Conspiracy theories involving Bill Gates and Covid-19 vaccines have baffled many people – including Bill Gates.

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.

© Provided by The Independent

Bill Gates baffled by conspiracy theories about him and Covid vaccines

BREAKING – Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate set to cover 80 million workers

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:54 , Oliver O’Connell

The Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden’s push to get more Americans vaccinated amid the Covid-19 Omicron surge.

Justices handed down a ruling rejecting an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that would have required 80 million workers to get vaccinated or submit to periodic tests.

© Provided by The Independent

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Covid-19 pill rollout stymied by shortages

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:40 , Oliver O’Connell

Two brand-new Covid-19 pills that were supposed to be an important weapon against the pandemic in the US are in short supply and have played little role in the fight against the omicron wave of infections.

The problem is that production is not yet at full strength and that the pill considered to be far superior, Pfizer’s, takes six to eight months to manufacture.

While the supply is expected to improve dramatically in the coming months, doctors are clamouring for the pills now, not just because omicron is causing an explosion of cases but because two antibody drugs that were once the go-to treatments don’t work as well against the variant.

“This should be a really joyous time because we now have highly effective antiviral pills,” said Erin McCreary, a pharmacist and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Instead, this feels like the hardest and most chaotic stretch of the pandemic.”

The pills — and other Covid-19 drugs, for that matter — are being carefully rationed, reserved for the highest-risk patients.

AP

Scientists rally to defend Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:24 , Oliver O’Connell

Dozens of scientists and medical professionals have signed a letter of support for Dr Anthony Fauci following the fierce criticism he has faced from Republican lawmakers this week.

In the letter, Dr Fauci, one of the leading experts on infectious diseases in the US and the White House chief medical adviser, is lauded for his 40 years of service to the country through HIV, ebola, and now Covid.

© Provided by The Independent

Scientists defend Fauci from ‘inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded’ criticism

Ann Coulter hits out at Trump over ‘gutless’ dig over booster shots

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:18 , Oliver O’Connell

Donald Trump has called politicians who refuse to say whether they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot “gutless” – and he appeared to be referring to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has dodged questions on if he has taken up the latest coronavirus shot.

Speaking on conservative One America News Network, the former president said “You gotta say it. Whether you had it or not, say it.”

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter lashed out at Mr Trump in defence of Mr DeSantis on Twitter.

Jade Bremmer reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Trump divides conservatives with ‘gutless’ jab on boosters as Ann Coulter lashes out

Rand Paul: Fauci ‘ deserves everything he gets’

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:03 , Oliver O’Connell

Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Dr Anthony Fauci “deserves” criticism for his handling of Covid and told The Independent he ‘resented’ the US chief medical adviser blaming him for threats made against the top infectious diseases expert.

Gino Spocchia has the story.

© Provided by The Independent

Rand Paul says Dr Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’

Biden offers free masks and 1 billion tests

Thursday 13 January 2022 18:45 , Oliver O’Connell

President Joe Biden said his administration will unveil a plan to provide free masks to Americans, to encourage their use in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden also said on Thursday that his administration will order another half-billion at-home Covid-19 tests for mailing to any American who requests one on a yet-to-be unveiled website, adding to a previous order of 500,000 placed by the administration last month.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

© Provided by The Independent

Biden to make free masks available and order half-billion Covid tests for mailing

Trump slams GOP politicians who dodge vaccine questions as ‘gutless’

Thursday 13 January 2022 18:15 , Oliver O’Connell

Former President Donald Trump blasted GOP politicians who refuse to say if they’ve received a Covid-19 booster shot on Tuesday – a rant that some are viewing as an indirect attack on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Tom Fenton reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Trump attacks ‘gutless’ GOP politicians who dodge vaccine question

270 scientists write letter demanding Spotify address Joe Rogan anti-vax misinformation

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:56 , Oliver O’Connell

Spotify is being asked to address Covid misinformation by hundreds of scientists and medical professionals, following another controversial Joe Rogan anti-vax episode.

Rogan, who has a reported $100m podcast deal with the streaming giant, interviewed medical doctor Robert Malone in a recent episode, who claimed on his show that Americans were “hypnotised” into wearing masks and getting vaccines.

Malone also told The Joe Rogan Experience that the country suffered from “mass formation psychosis”, which psychology experts say is a concept that does not even exist.

Graeme Massie reports.

© Provided by The Independent

270 scientists demand Spotify address Joe Rogan anti-vax misinformation episode

ICYMI: Five times Fauci and Paul clashed over leaked emails, masks and Omicron

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:35 , Oliver O’Connell

The Republican Senator and the federal government’s lead infectious disease expert clashed over emails from early in the pandemic warning of possible “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the creation of Covid-19.

Mr Paul asked Dr Fauci it was appropriate to use his $420,000 salary to attack scientists who disagreed with the science of Dr Fauci’s, who has become the public face of the federal government’s Covid response.

Justin Vallejo reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Five times Anthony Fauci and Rand Paul clashed in testy Senate hearings

Un-vaxxed Quebec father temporarily loses right to see child

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:13 , Oliver O’Connell

A father in Quebec, Canada has temporarily lost the right to see his 12-year-old child because he isn’t vaccinated.

A judge in the province ruled that it wasn’t in the child’s “best interest” to see the parent after the father requested to extend his visiting time during the holiday season.

A family law expert told the Le Devoir paper that it’s the first case of a parent being banned from seeing their child because of their vaccination status.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

© Provided by The Independent

Unvaccinated dad temporarily loses right to see 12-year-old child over Covid jab