In a motion filed on Tuesday, the Biden administration urged a federal appeals court to immediately rescind its order suspending the requirements for private companies to receive Covid vaccines, arguing that longer delays would lead to more deaths and hospitalizations.
In a statement, the U.S. Justice Department told the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that “the threat to workers is ongoing and overwhelming” as offices reopen and the highly transmissible delta variant spreads.
“Simply put, delaying the Standard would likely cost many lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous expenses. That is a confluence of harms of the highest order,” the Justice Department stated in a motion.
In a brief court order, the Biden administration asked that the masking and testing requirements for unvaccinated workers be allowed to continue as a stopgap measure until the case is decided.
“Although vaccination is the most effective means of mitigating the grave danger of COVID-19 in the workplace, masking and testing for unvaccinated employees is a reasonably effective alternative,” the administration argued.
Johns Hopkins University reported a 14% increase in new infections in the U.S. over the week prior, with an average of 95,000 new infections daily.
According to Hopkins, the virus kills an average of 1,100 people a day in the United States.
According to Department of Health and Human Services data through Monday, there are currently about 50,000 Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 on a seven-day average, an increase of 6% since last week.
The Biden policy was supported by a coalition of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, who said vaccination is essential to curbing the pandemic and protecting workers.
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the National League for Nursing participated in the group.
A court order halted the implementation and enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccination and testing policy, prompting the administration to halt its policy.
This order came from the United States Appeal Court for the Fifth Circuit, which is the country’s most conservative appeals court.
An opinion by Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt for a three-judge panel criticized the policy for being “fatally flawed” and “staggeringly overbroad,” putting forward “serious constitutional concerns.”
Biden’s policy has been sued in more than two dozen cases.
A number of Republican attorneys general, private companies, and industry groups, including the American Trucking Associations, the National Retail Federation, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, are fighting the requirements to be reversed.
In a lawsuit, labor unions requested that the requirements be expanded so that smaller businesses and more workers are protected.
The cases were transferred to the Sixth Circuit last week after the Biden administration asked a multidistrict litigation panel to consolidate them in a single court by random selection.
Currently, the Biden administration is seeking an end to the pause ordered by the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana with the help of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio.
In its motion Tuesday, the Justice Department dismissed the Fifth Circuit’s concern as “meritless.”
Under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the court argues that the federal government is not overstepping its authority by requiring businesses to protect their employees from workplace hazards e.g. the pandemic.
Furthermore, the Biden administration informed the Sixth Circuit that the Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which developed the emergency power rules, did not exceed the mandate established by Congress.
If the Labor Secretary believes a new workplace safety standard is essential to protect workers from serious danger, OSHA can bypass the normal rulemaking process.
By the staggering death toll and high rates of transmission across the country, the White House has continually stated that the virus clearly poses a grave threat to workers.
Businesses with 100 or more employees were required to require vaccinations or weekly Covid testing for its employees by Jan. 4 according to Biden policy.
Beginning Dec. 5, unvaccinated employees must wear facemasks in the workplace.
There have been several requests to hear the case before the entire bench of 16 judges instead of a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit.
There is a possibility that those who seek to overturn the requirements could benefit from a hearing before the entire court since its majority is appointed by Republicans.
Regardless, legal experts predict the case will end up at the Supreme Court, regardless of the outcome of the Sixth Circuit.