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Vaccine mandate news – live: Supreme Court blocks Covid vaccine rule as Joe Rogan leads anti-vax demo

Joe Biden gives an update on federal surge response to Omicron

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.

While the political right is praising the decision, there is an outcry from the medical community, and from the left. MSNBC host Joy Reid called the justices who chose to strike down the mandate “right-wing ideologues”.

Meanwhile, a number of Republican politicians have vowed that they will defy Washington, D.C.’s own proposed vaccination mandate for businesses.

The mandate, which was announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser in December, will force many establishments — from gyms and theatres to bars and restaurants — to require that patrons over the age of 12 show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering.

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Labor Secretary: Employers will still be encouraged to have workers vaccinated or tested

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh confirmed the Biden administration’s stance that, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling denying the right of OSHA to enforce a vaccine mandate on firms of more than 100 employees, they will continue to encourage employers to enforce their own vaccination and testing rules.

He said: “We will continue to encourage all employers to have their workers get vaccinated or tested weekly. Many companies are already doing this, and have found it is the best way to keep workers safe from the deadly virus.”

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 16:20

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Ms Reid’s also said: “At this point … have they not just simply stated by their actions that they are more in favor of right-wing politics … than they are in favor of saving lives? They don’t really care if this causes less people to die, clearly.”

Her guest, Supreme Court lawyer Neal Katyal, responded: “Today’s decision on vaccines, it’s such a threat to public safety. And the idea that the Supreme Court is responsible for it, it’s really hard to imagine. The justices are now living in their own bubble.”

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 16:02

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MSNBC’s Joy Reid slams Supreme Court justices for stopping vaccine mandate

MSNBC presenter Joy Reid slammed the Supreme Court’s decision to halt President Biden’s employer vaccine mandate on her Thursday evening show, calling the conservative justices “right-wing ideologues”.

“I have to say, I don’t have faith in this Supreme Court. I think they’re ideologues. I think they’re right-wing ideologues. I think they’re sort of doing a Christian nationalist version of whatever it is the Supreme Court used to do,” Ms Reid said.

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 15:50

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Senate Democrats want answers on why at-home tests were not rolled out earlier

A small group of Senate Democrats is pressing the Biden administration about the Covid-19 testing shortage as Omicron cases have soared across the US.

CNN reports, that in a letter to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients on Thursday, led by Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen, the group asks “why the administration failed to take more significant steps earlier to increase access to at-home tests.”

They praise the promotion and distribution of vaccines across the nation, but are fiercely critical of how slowly tests have been rolled out.

“Far too many measures — such as increasing access to home-based testing — have been reactive, rather than proactive,” the letter reads.

“This administration either knew or should have known that testing shortages were occurring across the country over the past several months, and with the full expectation that the virus would likely mutate into a new variant, steps to increase testing access should have happened before the current wave hit, not several weeks into the surge, with resources still not available until later this month or beyond.”

Other signatories of the letter are senators Mark Kelly of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Jon Ossoff of Georgia.

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 15:40

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How does the cost of rapid test kits in the US compare to other countries?

Spoiler alert: Before President Joe Biden announced plans to pay for the tests, the comparison was not favourable.

Alex Woodward has the details.

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 15:30

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‘Awful’ Covid impact ‘could be debated’ says Fox News host

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro is facing a furious backlash after calling the historic devastation of Covid-19 into question.

The comment came during Wednesday’s episode of Fox News’ The Five, just after co-host Geraldo Rivera warned against downplaying the pandemic’s impact.

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 15:10

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Joe Rogan admits he looked ‘dumb’ during vaccine debate

Rogan has come under fire for the past two years for inviting several vaccine sceptics onto his show, where he allows them to air unsubstantiated or disproven theories about Covid-19.

Roisin O’Connor reports.

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 14:50

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How does your vaccination status change Covid-19 symptoms?

Dr Craig Spencer, a New York emergency room doctor, has explained which symptoms his Covid patients typically get, depending on which – and how many – vaccine shots they’ve received. Unsurprisingly, the unvaccinated patients fare the worst.

Nathan Place reports on what the doctor observed in the ER.

Oliver O’Connell14 January 2022 14:25

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Omicron numbers ‘push hospitals to capacity’ in 24 US states

At least 80 per cent of staffed hospital beds were occupied in 24 states on Thursday, including Georgia, Maryland and Massachusetts, data shows.

Furthermore, in 18 states of those states, at least 85 per cent of beds in adult intensive care units were full, with the biggest shortage of beds being in Alabama, Missouri, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas.

On Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she was sending an additional 700 members of the state’s National Guard to help hospitals deal with a rise in coronavirus patients. “Our hospitals are under extreme pressure,” she wrote on Twitter.

Thomas Fenton14 January 2022 13:45

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Marine Corps become first military branch to grant religious Covid vaccine exemptions

The Marine Corps granted two religious exemptions to the military’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, making it the first — and so far only — branch to grant religious exceptions since the requirement went into effect in August.

As CNN first reported, the Marine Corps on Wednesday said it had received 3,350 requests for religious exemptions and had processed 3,212 of them. However, for the first time, they have now granted two of the requests.

Each of the services has received several thousand requests for religious exemptions to the military’s vaccine mandate. But until this week, none of those requests had been granted, although the services still have many requests to process and vet.

Pressed earlier this week on why the services had not granted any religious exemptions, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that each branch considers the requests “in good faith.”

Thomas Fenton14 January 2022 13:14

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