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Admin Officially Withdraws Vaccine Rule01/26 06:11

   

   (AP) The Biden administration has officially withdrawn a rule that would 
have required workers at big companies to get vaccinated or face regular COVID 
testing requirements.

   The Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed the withdrawal 
Tuesday. But the agency said it still strongly encourages workers to get 
vaccinated.

   In early November, OSHA announced a vaccine-or-test mandate for companies 
with at least 100 employees. The rule __ which would have impacted more than 80 
million U.S. workers __ was originally set to go into effect on Jan. 4.

   But numerous states and business groups challenged the rule in court. On 
Jan. 13, the Supreme Court halted the plan. In a 6-3 ruling, the court's 
conservative majority concluded that OSHA had overstepped its authority.

   "OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress," the 
court's majority wrote. "Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant 
legislation addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any 
measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here."

   The justices left in place a vaccine mandate for health care providers who 
receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding. That rule affects 10.4 million 
workers.

   U.S. corporations have been split over whether to mandate employee 
vaccinations. United Airlines began requiring vaccines in August; the company 
says 99% of its workers have been vaccinated or have requested medical or 
religious exemptions. Tyson Foods, which also announced a mandate in August, 
says 96% of its workers were vaccinated by a Nov. 1 deadline.

   But other big businesses, including Starbucks and General Electric, scrapped 
previously announced vaccine mandates for their employees after the Supreme 
Court's ruling.

   OSHA indicated that the rule could return in some form. While it is no 
longer an enforceable standard, it remains a proposed rule, OSHA said. For now, 
the agency said it will prioritize the health care mandate.

   David Michaels, an epidemiologist and former OSHA administrator who now 
teaches at The George Washington University, said the agency could consider a 
new rule that would include other measures designed to prevent the spread of 
COVID-19 in workplaces, such as requiring face masks, distancing, and better 
ventilation systems.

 
 
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