Although the Biden administration has been claiming an urgent response to insufficient vaccination levels is essential for months, the White House is now instructing federal agencies to halt disciplinary action against non-compliant federal employees.
The decision has been announced by the Office of Management and Budget, which also says that around 92 percent of federal workers have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine injection.
The administration has been pressing forward with vaccine mandates as an essential part of what it has described as its emergency response to the pandemic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been told to move quickly and use emergency administrative rules to take action among other agencies.
However, OSHA took nearly two months to draft an “emergency” rule as ordered by Biden. Even then, the rule was not designed to take effect for several more weeks. The final version of the rule applicable to private employers of 100 or more workers does not require full compliance before 2022.
Before Biden’s decision to put a hold on the mandate for federal employees could be publicly announced, a federal court issued a temporary restraining order blocking the federal requirement for health care workers to be vaccinated nationwide.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp issued the order, writing that “the scale falls clearly in favor” of some unvaccinated staff, students, and contractors being allowed to work for public health instead of a “swift, irremediable impact” of forcing providing facilities to choose between offering substandard health care or none at all.
An appointee of President Donald Trump, Judge Schelp, found that the mandate would lead to immediate staffing shortages that would directly impact the ability of providers to give adequate care to patients. Attorneys for the Biden administration argued that the mandate is necessary to slow the spread of COVID infection in the population of health care workers and Medicare and Medicaid recipients.