The Supreme Court on Thursday (Jan. 13) blocked President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for large businesses, but allowed a vaccine requirement for medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments to go into effect across the country.
The decision came days after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency action for businesses started to take effect. The mandate required employees at businesses with 100 or more workers to get inoculated or submit a negative COVID test weekly to enter the workplace. Unvaccinated workers were also required to wear masks indoors at work.
“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” the court wrote. “Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”
In a statement, President Biden said he was “disappointed” that the Supreme Court chose to obstruct provisions that were life-saving for staffers. Biden called on states and individual businesses to step up and voluntarily initiate vaccination mandates to protect workers, customers and the overall community.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.
The court’s ruling to block the mandate comes as the United States is facing record-high numbers of positive COVID-19 infections. According to CNBC, the U.S. is reporting an average of 786,000 new cases daily, a pandemic record and a 37% increase over last week’s numbers. Hospitalizations have also sharply increased. The outlet reports that there are 149,000 Americans in U.S. hospitals with COVID, an increase of 27% over the past week.