The partial halt on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers should be lifted because it is an imminent risk to the safety of patients and staff, the U.S. Solicitor General told the Supreme Court on Monday.
“The rule has never been more necessary than it is now,” U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in a brief replying to those states contesting the rule, which is now unenforceable in half the country.
“Absent stays, the preliminary injunction will likely result in hundreds or thousands of deaths and serious illnesses from COVID-19 that could otherwise be prevented,” Prelogar told the high court. Oral argument is scheduled for Jan. 7.
The Supreme Court filing comes amid a debilitating surge in the omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19. Although people infected with the variant are less likely to require hospitalization, the sheer quantity of sick people is overwhelming short-staffed hospitals.
The states contesting the rule told the Supreme Court on Dec. 30 that the mandate should remain partially blocked because it is a clear overreach of statutory authority that would either unjustly force employees into a “permanent medical procedure” or cause them to resign in droves.
The Biden administration had asked the high court Dec. 16 to undo the lower court decisions that left the mandate unenforceable in 25 states.
But the states said “lifting the injunctions puts patients across the country at risk of losing access to the healthcare they need now,” particularly if health-care workers in rural areas get fired or resign.
The case is Biden v Missouri, U.S., No. 21A240, response briefs filed 12/30/21.