Vaccine mandate news - live: Free rapid tests from Wednesday after Supreme Court blocks Biden Covid rule

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·40-min read
Vaccine mandate news - live: Free rapid tests from Wednesday after Supreme Court blocks Biden Covid rule
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

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.

Key points

  • Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate

  • Has Omicron peaked in the US?

  • Rand Paul: Fauci ‘ deserves everything he gets’

  • Scientists and medical professionals rally around Fauci

  • ‘Urgent need’ for super vaccine as other variants emerge

‘Stunningly high’ 29 per cent positivity rate in US

20:44 , Oliver O'Connell

Former CDC director Tom Frieden calls the current 29 per cent positivity rate in the US stunningly high and notes that many infections are being missed.

GE suspends COVID-19 vaccine or test requirement

20:36 , Oliver O'Connell

General Electric Co on Friday said it has suspended Covid-19 vaccine or test requirement for employees after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The court on Thursday blocked President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses — a policy the conservative justices deemed an improper imposition on the lives and health of many Americans — while endorsing a separate federal vaccine requirement for healthcare facilities.

Firms may still impose their own vaccination or testing requirements and the justice’s decision does not impact their ability to do so.

The Biden administration said it will continue to encourage this type of privately mandated measure.

With reporting from Reuters

How to spot a fake KN95 mask

20:23 , Oliver O'Connell

Jade Bremner explains how to spot a counterfeit KN95 mask.

How to spot fake KN95 masks

Kentucky lawmaker ripped for ‘brave’ stand against vaccine rules

20:16 , Oliver O'Connell

Republican representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky is being mocked for his stand against take-out food from DC restaurants that require proof of vaccination to enter.

He tweeted: “The DC vaccine mandate kicks in this weekend. My office will not comply. We will not show papers. We will not order takeout from restaurants that require papers for dine in. We will get our food from Virginia or we will bring it to work. Shame has befallen our nation’s capital.”

California Democrat Eric Swalwell responded: “I never thought I’d serve with a braver colleague than John Lewis. Then Thomas Massie stood up and refused to order takeout from DC. Fight on, Thomas! We shall overcome!”

Journalist Aaron Rupar similarly said: “Previous generations of great Americans held the line at Gettysburg or stormed the beaches at Normandy. Rep. Massie gets Five Guys from Virginia instead of DC. What heroism.”

‘Moron’ senator claims to be drafting ‘FAUCI Act’

20:09 , Oliver O'Connell

Days after being called a “moron” by White House chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci for making false claims about his financial disclosures, Kansas senator Roger Marshall plans to introduce legislation named for the federal government’s top infectious disease expert that would make such disclosures easier to find.

According to multiple reports, Sen Marshall plans to put forward a bill dubbed the Financial Accountability for Uniquely Compensated Individuals Act — or FAUCI Act for short — to make public Dr Fauci’s financial disclosure forms.

The veteran virologist said during a Senate hearing this week: “I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question. My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so – 35 years that I’ve been director.”

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

GOP senator dubbed a ‘moron’ by Fauci claims to be drafting ‘FAUCI Act’

Citi reaches 99 per cent vaccine compliance

19:54 , Oliver O'Connell

Despite the Supreme Court decision regarding vaccine mandates for companies with more than 100 employees, those same firms can still implement their own rules, and many have done so.

On the day that the court handed down its decision, banking giant Citi announced that it had hit 99 per cent compliance to its own mandate.

Sarah Wechter, head of Human Resources at the bank, wrote on LinkedIn:

A few months back we announced that U.S. colleagues are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or receive an accommodation by January 14. One day before the deadline, we have reached 99% compliance. This level of compliance helps us create a safer workplace, protect your families and our communities, and ensure continuity of our business operations.

A huge thank you to everyone at Citi who took action to meet this requirement: those who were already vaccinated, those who made the decision to get vaccinated, and those who requested and received approved religious and medical accommodations or state-permitted exemptions. Going into the last day, we expect the number of employees who have not complied will decrease even further. Our goal has always been to keep everyone at Citi, and we sincerely hope all of our colleagues take action to comply.

White House: Free Covid tests can be ordered starting Wednesday

19:36 , Oliver O'Connell

Americans will be able to order four free rapid Covid-19 per household on a US government website that will go live on 19 January, Biden administration officials said Friday.

White House says free Covid tests can be ordered starting Wednesday

Judge dismisses case of mom accused of forcing Covid-positive child into trunk

19:25 , Oliver O'Connell

A woman accused of endangering her 13-year-old son has had her case dismissed by a judge in Texas.

Sarah Beam, aged 41, was arrested last week for allegedly forcing her son into the trunk of her car on 3 January. She had attended a drive-thru Covid testing site at Pridgeon Stadium in Houston, Texas, when she allegedly told a health director that her teenage son was inside the trunk.

Gino Spocchia reports.

Judge dismisses case against mom accused of forcing child into trunk

Covid death toll under Biden soon to eclipse that under Trump

19:05 , Oliver O'Connell

The death toll from Covid-19 during the presidency of Joe Biden will soon overtake the number of people who died from the illness while Donald Trump was in the White House.

The number of dead Americans from Covid-19 had surpassed 846,000 on Friday. During Mr Trump’s last 10 months in office, 425,000 people died from Covid-19. During Mr Biden’s leadership, 421,000 people have died.

Gulstaf Kilander reports.

Covid death toll under Biden will soon overtake number dead under Trump

Feels longer...

18:48 , Oliver O'Connell

Two years ago this week the first Covid-19 case outside of China was detected.

Manhunt for anti-vax dad who fled with daughter

18:25 , Oliver O'Connell

A Canadian mother has accused her ex-husband of absconding with their seven-year-old daughter in order to keep the girl from getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

Namita Singh reports.

Manhunt for anti-vax dad who fled with daughter, 7, to stop her getting Covid shot

ICYMI: GOP congressman blasted vaccine mandate to holocaust comparison

18:06 , Oliver O'Connell

Representative Warren Davidson of Ohio has been condemned by Jewish groups for comparing a vaccine policy to the Nazi regime.

The congressman retweeted a post from District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, who shared a video about the new Covid vaccine regulations.

Jade Bremner reports.

GOP congressman blasted for likening vaccine mandate to holocaust

Ronald McDonald House denies evicting family for refusing vaccine

17:46 , Oliver O'Connell

A charity for sick children backed by McDonald’s has denied claims that it is evicting a four-year-old boy with leukaemia because his parents refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Families staying at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Vancouver, Canada, were told on Monday that they must get at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine before the end of the month in order to stay.

Io Dodds reports.

Ronald McDonald House denies evicting child with cancer over father’s anti-vax views

SCOTUS decision latest bad news for Biden

17:26 , Oliver O'Connell

White House maintains they are still fighting to fulfil promises to voters.

Biden to hold news conference

17:11 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden will hold a news conference on 19 January, marking a year since he took office.

‘Hey Joe, we told you to let the mandate go'

16:55 , Oliver O'Connell

The Job Creators Network is taking a victory lap on the overturned vaccine mandate with a giant billboard in New York’s Times Square.

It reads: “Hey Joe, we told you to let the mandate go.”

“You lost. America won.”

“You need to think twice when declaring war on small business.”

New York mayor: Bring workers back in and send kids to school

16:50 , Oliver O'Connell

New York City Mayor Eric Adams used a press conference on Friday morning at Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria, Queens to urge businesses to bring employees back in from remote working, and for parents to send their kids to school.

Mr Adams is keen to return the city to regular activity despite a daily average number of Covid-19 cases in excess of 25,000 due to the Omicron variant.

“We cannot run a city as complex as New York remotely,” Mayor Adams said.

He also urged all New Yorkers to make sure they had all their vaccinations and booster shots up-to-date and outlined the city resources available for both physical and mental health problems related to the pandemic.

WHO recommends two new drugs to treat Covid

16:40 , Oliver O'Connell

The World Health Organization has recommended two new drugs for Covid-19, providing yet more options for treating the disease. The extent to which these medicines will save lives depends on how widely available and affordable they will be.

The first drug, baricitinib, is strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical Covid. It is part of a class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors that suppress the overstimulation of the immune system. WHO recommends that it is given with corticosteroids.

Baricitinib is an oral drug, used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It provides an alternative to other arthritis drugs called Interleukin-6 receptor blockers, recommended by WHO in July 2021.

WHO has also conditionally recommended the use of a monoclonal antibody drug, sotrovimab, for treating mild or moderate Covid in patients who are at high risk of hospitalisation. This includes patients who are older, immunocompromised, have underlying conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, and those unvaccinated.

Sotrovimab is an alternative to casirivimab-imdevimab, a monoclonal antibody cocktail recommended by WHO in September 2021. Studies are ongoing on the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies against Omicron but early laboratory studies show that sotrovimab retains its activity.

Preventing airborne spread of Covid is doable - here’s how

16:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Professor Christina Pagel and Dr Adam Squires explain how stopping the airborne spread of Covid is perfectly doable by taking the right steps.

What needs to happen next to prevent the airborne spread of Covid?

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

16:20 , Oliver O'Connell

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.”

16:02 , Oliver O'Connell

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.”

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

15:50 , Oliver O'Connell

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.

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

15:40 , Oliver O'Connell

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.

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

15:30 , Oliver O'Connell

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

Alex Woodward has the details.

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

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

15:10 , Oliver O'Connell

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 NewsThe Five, just after co-host Geraldo Rivera warned against downplaying the pandemic’s impact.

Nathan Place reports.

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro says Covid devastation ‘could be debated’

Joe Rogan admits he looked ‘dumb’ during vaccine debate

14:50 , Oliver O'Connell

Joe Rogan has admitted he was made to “look dumb” by ABC broadcaster Josh Zepps during a debate about the effects of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

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.

This week, an open letter signed by 270 scientists demanded that Spotify address the misinformation shared on Rogan’s show.

Roisin O’Connor reports.

Joe Rogan admits broadcaster Josh Zepps made him ‘look dumb’ during vaccine debate

How does your vaccination status change Covid-19 symptoms?

14:25 , Oliver O'Connell

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.

Doctor explains how vaccination status can change Covid symptoms

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

13:45 , Thomas Fenton

The highly contagious Omicron variant is fueling an enormous coronavirus wave that is pushing hospitals close to their capacity limits in about two dozen states, according to data posted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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.

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

13:14 , Thomas Fenton

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.”

GOP politician mulls introduction of ‘Fauci Act’ after hearing clash

12:45 , Thomas Fenton

Republican Senator Roger Marshall plans to introduce the “Fauci Act” after he clashed with the infectious disease expert at a Senate hearing earlier this week.

The Kansas-native will be introducing the Financial Accountability for Uniquely Compensated Individuals (FAUCI) Act following his claim that Fauci’s records were not readily accessible to the public, a spokesperson for the Senator told The Hill.

The Act would require the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) website to provide the financial records of administration officials like Fauci and a list of those in the government whose financial records are not public.

The move comes after Dr Fauci was caught on a hot mic calling Marshall a “moron” for not knowing the Chief White House medical adviser’s financial records were already public.

“I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question,” Dr Fauci said at the hearing after being questioned by Marshall about the records. “My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so.”

Conservatives push for boycott of GOP club over DC vaccine mandate

12:15 , Thomas Fenton

Freedom Caucus member Representative Bob Good stood up in a closed-door GOP Conference meeting on Tuesday, telling colleagues they should refuse to patronize the 70-year-old Capitol Hill Club, sources told The Hill.

The club stated on its website that starting Saturday it will begin requiring that members and guests show their COVID-19 vaccination cards before they can enter the facilities.

Conservative House lawmakers are urging their colleagues to boycott a storied, private Republican club near the Capitol to protest an indoor vaccine mandate imposed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, which was set to be imposed on Friday.

“For some, there’s a mentality of ‘burn the house down,’” said one GOP member who was present at Tuesday’s meeting. “The majority of the conference was in the camp of you need to protect the club.”

ICYMI - How the Supreme Court voted on Biden’s proposed vaccine mandate

11:45 , Thomas Fenton

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 along ideological lines to toss out Joe Biden’s mandate for businesses requiring those with more than 100 workers to institute vaccination or regular testing requirements.

A second 5-4 ruling in the court allowed the administration’s requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated to remain in place. Conservative justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberal justices on that decision.

However, the first ruling is nevertheless a major blow to the plan the president announced last year.

In their majority opinion, the six justices wrote that although Covid-19 was indeed a hazard faced by many employees at their workplaces, it did not fall under the legal definition of an “occupational hazard” that OSHA, the US government agency which enforces labour standards, could regulate.

Read more:

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Joe Rogan and Robert F. Kennedy Jr to appear at 'Defeat the Mandates’ protest

11:20 , Thomas Fenton

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and controversial podcast host Joe Rogan are set to appear as guest speakers at a conspiracy theory-linked COVID-19 vaccine protest in Washington, D.C.

Mr Kennedy, son of former senator Bobby Kennedy and nephew of the former president John F. Kennedy, is slated to appear at the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in D.C. on January 23, Newsweek reports.

Mr Rogan, who is frequently criticized for promoting COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation on the hugely popular JRE podcast, is also listed as being among the speakers at the march, which concludes at the Lincoln Memorial.

The Defeat the Mandates demonstration aims to protest against “forcing vaccinations on Americans” and other COVID-related restrictions.

The 23 January protest is set to coincide with a “World Wide Rally for Freedom” rally in D.C. The “World Wide Rally for Freedom” is a coordinated international anti-vaccine protest movement with ties to conspiracy theory and QAnon groups.

Republicans make Nazi regime comparisons ahead of new D.C. vaccine mandates

10:57 , Thomas Fenton

A vaccine mandate that is being introduced for Washington D.C. businesses has been met with hostility by several GOP politicians.

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

News of the new law, which is set to be introduced on 15 January, sparked fury amongst many Republicans - although none were quite as hyperbolic as Rep Warren Davidson (R-Ohio). In a recent Tweet, he compared the mandate to Nazism and seemed to imply that D.C. would eventually round up and kill people who opt not the get vaccinated.

“Let’s recall that the Nazis dehumanized Jewish people before segregating them, segregated them before imprisoning them, imprisoned them before enslaving them, and enslaved them before massacring them,” he wrote, also encouraging people not to comply.

Less than One-Third of Voters Trust Coronavirus Information from Fauci - Poll

10:10 , ella glover

A NewsNation poll of 1,000 voters taken this week found that less than a third (30.8 percent) trust Dr Anthony Fauci when it comes to coronavirus information.

The question asked participants to select from a list of sources who they trusted when it comes to information about Covid-19. They could choose more than one answer.

Listed were Dr Fauci (30.8 percent), President Biden (15. percent), federal health authorities (49.8 percent), your doctor (63.2 percent) and the news media (10.2 percent).

It said there was a margin of error of 5.8 percent.

Former Trump adviser Steve Cortes hit out at Dr Fauci when he shared the results on Twitter Thursday.

Biden urges businesses to institute their own vaccine mandates

09:10 , Ella Glover

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to halt the Biden administration’s plans to introduce a vaccine mandate for large businesses, the president said he was “disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law.”

He called on businesses to institute their own vaccination requirements, noting that a third of Fortune 100 companies already have done so.

The US companies that have their own vaccine mandates include Door Dash, Deloitte, McDonalds, Google, Facebook and more.

Covid-19 pills shortages as Omicron rages

06:44 , Sravasti Dasgupta

Two new Covid-19 pills from Pfizer and Merck that were meant to be crucial to fighting the pandemic are in short supply and have played little role in fighting the Omicron surge .

The Biden administration ordered the two pills late last month, which would reduce the burden on hospitals.

However it did not place mass orders as it did with vaccines, reported Associated Press.

Pfizer said that as its pill Paxlovid, takes six to eight months to manufacture, it can supply only about 250,000 courses of the treatment by the end of this month.

Merck’s pill, Molnupiravir, was produced in greater advance quantities but final testing showed the drug was far less effective than Pfizer’s pill.

It also contains potential side effects for pregnant women and is considered to be a last option, according to federal government guidelines.

While the federal government has sent 164,000 Pfizer pills to states, allocating them by population-health officials in states said they are inadequate.

There is also shortage of antibody medications, with federal officials limiting shipments to 50,000 doses per week.

Pfizer’s Covid-19 pill Paxlovid (Pfizer)
Pfizer’s Covid-19 pill Paxlovid (Pfizer)

19 states have less than 15% ICU capacity

06:10 , Sravasti Dasgupta

As Omicron cases surge across the US, hospitals have been left overwhelmed.

Data from the US department of health and human services showed that 19 states have less than 15 per cent intensive care capacity as hospitalisations continue to soar.

These include Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and New Hampshire, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont.

The data also showed that hospitals in four of these states, Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and New Hampshire have less than 10 per cent capacity for intensive care.

As of Wednesday, hospitalisations across the US have reached a record high of 151,261.

Medical personnel seen at a New York hospital (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Medical personnel seen at a New York hospital (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Why Anthony Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’

05:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, found his way into the headlines this week after he was heard on a hot mic calling a GOP senator a “moron” during a committee hearing.

It comes after a wave of unrelenting criticism from conservatives, writes John Bowden.

Here’s why Anthony Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’

Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’, says Rand Paul

04:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Dr Anthony Fauci “deserves” criticism for his handling of Covid and told The Independent he ‘resented’ the US chief medical adviser blaming him for threats made against the top infectious diseases expert.

Gino Spocchia reports.

Rand Paul says Dr Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’

Biden administration to send medical teams to six states

04:34 , Sravasti Dasgupta

President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that the federal government will be sending medical teams to six states to help with Covid-19 care where hospitals and healthcare systems have been overwhelmed by the spread of the Omicron variant.

Military medical teams will be sent to New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Michigan and New Mexico.

The teams will support the healthcare systems in major hospitals in the states.

A defence official said that more than 40 medical teams from the Army, Air Force and Navy that include a total of 1,000 active duty military medical personnel are available.

Teams will continue to be mobilized and deployed where they are needed in the coming weeks.

A White House official says that this is a “first wave of deployments,” and other teams will also be sent to areas where they’re needed.

President Joe Biden speaks about the government’s COVID-19 response (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
President Joe Biden speaks about the government’s COVID-19 response (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

US surgeon general 'disappointed' with SCOTUS blocking vaccine mandate

04:19 , Sravasti Dasgupta

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has said that the Supreme Court’s decision to block a nationwide vaccine and testing mandate for large businesses, is “disappointing.”

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Dr Murthy said, “As a doctor and a public health professional today’s news was disappointing.”

“We know that the requirements for vaccines in workplaces are an important part of how we can keep workplaces safer, for both workers as well as for customers.”

He added that as the US records surging cases driven by the Omicron variant, the next few weeks will remain challenging.

“I think the next few weeks are going to be challenging. We are going to continue to see high numbers of cases. Our hospital systems in parts of the country are strained and that will continue,” he said.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks at a news conference on 8 December 2020 (Getty Images)
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks at a news conference on 8 December 2020 (Getty Images)

SCOTUS halts Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

03:45 , Oliver O'Connell

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to toss out Joe Biden’s mandate for businesses requiring those with more than 100 workers to institute vaccination or regular testing requirements on Thursday.

John Bowden reports from Washington, DC.

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

KN95 and N95: What you need to know

02:45 , Oliver O'Connell

As the US fights to slow the spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant, reports have surfaced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering recommending that those who can should wear a higher standard of mask when in public – specifically the KN95 and N95 masks that have been in high demand for the last two years.

KN95 and N95 masks: Which does the CDC recommend, and can you reuse them?

Coming soon: Free masks and 1 billion Covid tests

01:45 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden said his administration will unveil a plan to provide free masks to Americans, to encourage their use in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden also said on Thursday that his administration will order another half-billion at-home Covid-19 tests for mailing to any American who requests one on a yet-to-be unveiled website, adding to a previous order of 500 million placed by the administration last month.

Andrew Feinberg reports.

Biden to make free masks available and order half-billion Covid tests for mailing

ABC News criticised for editing CDC director interview

00:45 , Oliver O'Connell

ABC News is under fire for its editing of a “Good Morning America” interview with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky that created uncertainty that’s being exploited by vaccine critics.

ABC News draws fire for editing of CDC director's interview

United Airlines: Vaccine mandate ended weekly deaths

Thursday 13 January 2022 23:51 , Oliver O'Connell

The CEO of United Airlines has told his staff in an open letter that the company’s vaccine mandate has ended the “weekly” deaths that previously plagued the organisation.

United CEO says vaccine mandate has brought 'weekly' staff deaths to an end

Ruling does not prevent employers from requiring vaccination

Thursday 13 January 2022 23:20 , Oliver O'Connell

The Scotus ruling does not prevent private employers from requiring vaccination, nor does it undermine existing workplace vaccination requirements that were put in place voluntarily by employers.

The White House will continue to encourage private employers to institute their own mandates.

NBC News: 1 million new cases of Covid in 24 hours

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:45 , Oliver O'Connell

NBC News reports that the number of Covid-19 cases in the US has now topped 63 million since the start of the pandemic.

There were 1 million new cases in 24 hours from the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Before mandates there were incentives

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Before the White House introduced vaccine mandates in the late summer of 2021, the vaccine had been available for almost nine months.

To encourage take-up, a number of incentive schemes around the country received White House support.

Ben Wakana of the Covid-19 response team provides a few examples:

SCOTUS decision doesn’t change reality of pandemic

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:15 , Oliver O'Connell

If you are unvaccinated you are far more likely to get hospitalised and die from Covid-19.

Flashback: OSHA — small agency, big job

Thursday 13 January 2022 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t make many headlines. Charged with keeping America’s workplaces safe, it usually busies itself with tasks such as setting and enforcing standards for goggles, hardhats, and ladders.

And then it was directed to write a rule requiring employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccines or produce weekly test results.

Small agency, big job: Biden tasks OSHA with vaccine mandate

What did the court decide?

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:40 , Oliver O'Connell

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 along ideological lines to toss out Joe Biden’s mandate for businesses requiring those with more than 100 workers to institute vaccination or regular testing requirements.

A second 5-4 ruling in the court allowed the administration’s requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated to remain in place. Conservative justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberal justices on that decision.

However, the first ruling is nevertheless a major blow to the plan the president announced last year.

In their majority opinion, the six justices wrote that although Covid-19 was indeed a hazard faced by many employees at their workplaces, it did not fall under the legal definition of an “occupational hazard” that OSHA, the US government agency which enforces labour standards, could regulate.

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Trump issues statement on SCOTUS decision

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:25 , Oliver O'Connell

Former President Donald Trump has released a statement through his spokesperson Liz Harrington”

The Supreme Court has spoken, confirming what we all knew: Biden’s disastrous mandates are unconstitutional. Biden promised to shut down the virus, not the economy but he has failed miserably on both — and mandates would have further destroyed the economy. We are proud of the Supreme Court for not backing down. No mandates!

SCOTUS: Most noteworthy congressional action on vaccine mandate was disapproval

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:21 , Oliver O'Connell

Justices note in their decision that the “most noteworthy action concerning the vaccine mandate by either House of Congress has been a majority vote of Senate disapproving the regulation on December 8, 2021.”

Ron Klain and Alyssa Farah trade tweets about SCOTUS decision

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:14 , Oliver O'Connell

Mike Pence’s former press secretary Alyssa Farah shared her thoughts on the Biden vaccine strategy and received a response from current White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

Ms Farah tweeted: “Problem with Biden’s vaccine strategy from the outset: 1) he completely skipped over trying to educate & persuade vaccine skeptics & went straight to mandates, which makes many skeptics dig in their heels 2) Virtually no one thought the mandate would ultimately hold up in Court.”

She added: “So here we are: people are as divided as ever on vaccines. I have to wonder if spending a few months engaging in targeted public awareness campaigns dispelling fears & myths about the vaccine would have done more good in terms of getting shots in arms.”

Concluding: “I know a few smart women who were nervous to get the vaccine before getting pregnant or when getting pregnant. And as much as we’d like to assume everyone’s personal doc is telling them the medical consensus, some aren’t. These people are persuadable.”

Mr Klain responded to her initial tweet, writing: “We didn’t impose ANY vaccine requirements until August, and the one the Court stayed today was not announced until September. These requirements were used only after persuasion, incentives ($100 to get a vax), and final FDA approval were all in place.”

To which Ms Farah responded: “FAIR. But I think we need MORE persuasion. Some people will never budge - but I believe many Americans are scared because they’ve received bad, false info. There’s rampant misinfo on women &fertility-that needs to be combatted.”

She added: “Happy to help however I can.” #GetVaxxed #GetBoosted

White House will continue to do hard things

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:10 , Oliver O'Connell

Asked by a reporter about the next steps for the administration in the context that “things just seem like they’re going pretty right now for the White House”, Jen Psaki responds by citing successes and by saying they will continue to do hard things.

President Biden’s statement on SCOTUS vaccine mandate decision

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:02 , Oliver O'Connell

My administration began to institute vaccination requirements last July, when after months of making vaccinations free and widely available, 90 million Americans were still unvaccinated. Today, that number is down to under 35 million. These vaccine requirements applied to members of the Armed Forces, federal workers and contractors, health care workers, and employees in large firms. Had my administration not put vaccination requirements in place, we would be now experiencing a higher death toll from COVID-19 and even more hospitalizations.

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the requirement for health care workers will save lives: the lives of patients who seek care in medical facilities, as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work there. It will cover 10.4 million health care workers at 76,000 medical facilities. We will enforce it.

At the same time, I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law. This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden.

As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated. The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to require this measure, but that does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy. I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one-third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities.

We have to keep working together if we want to save lives, keep people working, and put this pandemic behind us.

White House will still push employers to require vaccinations

Thursday 13 January 2022 21:00 , Oliver O'Connell

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that the Biden administration will continue to call on employers to institute their own vaccine requirements despite the Supreme Court striking down the OSHA vaccine mandate.

Covid ‘hazard of daily life’ not specifically occupational

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:51 , Oliver O'Connell

Per the Supreme Court decision blocking the Biden vaccine mandate on private employers:

“Although Covid–19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. Covid–19 can and does spread at home, in schools ... and everywhere else that people gather.”

“Permitting OSHA to regulate the hazards of daily life — simply because most Americans have jobs and face those same risks while on the clock — would significantly expand OSHA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorisation.”

Democratic Party reacts to Supreme Court ruling

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:41 , Oliver O'Connell

DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa released the following statement:

Today’s ruling does not change the fact the best way to put this pandemic behind us and keep people safe is to get Americans vaccinated. Nor does it change the fact that it is Republican leaders, governors, senators, and House members who continue to dangerously undermine vaccines, elevate anti-vaxxers, and echo conspiracy theories on a daily basis to cater to a fringe, unvaccinated group.

Thankfully, the American people elected President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Democrats who will continue to work tirelessly to get shots in arms, get people back to work, keep kids in schools, and ultimately put this pandemic behind us once and for all — regardless of Republicans’ best efforts to stand in the way.

Bill Gates bewildered by vaccine conspiracy theories about him

Thursday 13 January 2022 20:33 , Oliver O'Connell

Conspiracy theories involving Bill Gates and Covid-19 vaccines have baffled many people – including Bill Gates.

In a Twitter interview with Professor Devi Sridhar, head of the Global Health Governance Programme, Mr Gates said he can’t understand why some theorists think he wants to inject people with microchips.

“People like you and I and Tony Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation,” the multibillionaire said. “I didn’t expect that. Some of it, like me putting chips in arms, doesn’t make sense to me – why would I want to do that?”

Nathan Place reports.

Bill Gates baffled by conspiracy theories about him and Covid vaccines

BREAKING - Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate set to cover 80 million workers

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:54 , Oliver O'Connell

The Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden’s push to get more Americans vaccinated amid the Covid-19 Omicron surge.

Justices handed down a ruling rejecting an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that would have required 80 million workers to get vaccinated or submit to periodic tests.

Supreme Court tosses out Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

Covid-19 pill rollout stymied by shortages

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Two brand-new Covid-19 pills that were supposed to be an important weapon against the pandemic in the US are in short supply and have played little role in the fight against the omicron wave of infections.

The problem is that production is not yet at full strength and that the pill considered to be far superior, Pfizer’s, takes six to eight months to manufacture.

While the supply is expected to improve dramatically in the coming months, doctors are clamouring for the pills now, not just because omicron is causing an explosion of cases but because two antibody drugs that were once the go-to treatments don’t work as well against the variant.

“This should be a really joyous time because we now have highly effective antiviral pills,” said Erin McCreary, a pharmacist and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Instead, this feels like the hardest and most chaotic stretch of the pandemic.”

The pills — and other Covid-19 drugs, for that matter — are being carefully rationed, reserved for the highest-risk patients.

AP

Scientists rally to defend Fauci

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:24 , Oliver O'Connell

Dozens of scientists and medical professionals have signed a letter of support for Dr Anthony Fauci following the fierce criticism he has faced from Republican lawmakers this week.

In the letter, Dr Fauci, one of the leading experts on infectious diseases in the US and the White House chief medical adviser, is lauded for his 40 years of service to the country through HIV, ebola, and now Covid.

Scientists defend Fauci from ‘inaccurate, unscientific, ill-founded’ criticism

Ann Coulter hits out at Trump over ‘gutless’ dig over booster shots

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:18 , Oliver O'Connell

Donald Trump has called politicians who refuse to say whether they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot “gutless” – and he appeared to be referring to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has dodged questions on if he has taken up the latest coronavirus shot.

Speaking on conservative One America News Network, the former president said “You gotta say it. Whether you had it or not, say it.”

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter lashed out at Mr Trump in defence of Mr DeSantis on Twitter.

Jade Bremmer reports.

Trump divides conservatives with ‘gutless’ jab on boosters as Ann Coulter lashes out

Rand Paul: Fauci ‘ deserves everything he gets’

Thursday 13 January 2022 19:03 , Oliver O'Connell

Senator Rand Paul has suggested that Dr Anthony Fauci “deserves” criticism for his handling of Covid and told The Independent he ‘resented’ the US chief medical adviser blaming him for threats made against the top infectious diseases expert.

Gino Spocchia has the story.

Rand Paul says Dr Fauci ‘deserves everything he gets’

Biden offers free masks and 1 billion tests

Thursday 13 January 2022 18:45 , Oliver O'Connell

President Joe Biden said his administration will unveil a plan to provide free masks to Americans, to encourage their use in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden also said on Thursday that his administration will order another half-billion at-home Covid-19 tests for mailing to any American who requests one on a yet-to-be unveiled website, adding to a previous order of 500,000 placed by the administration last month.

Andrew Feinberg reports from Washington, DC.

Biden to make free masks available and order half-billion Covid tests for mailing

Trump slams GOP politicians who dodge vaccine questions as ‘gutless'

Thursday 13 January 2022 18:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Former President Donald Trump blasted GOP politicians who refuse to say if they’ve received a Covid-19 booster shot on Tuesday – a rant that some are viewing as an indirect attack on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Tom Fenton reports.

Trump attacks ‘gutless’ GOP politicians who dodge vaccine question

270 scientists write letter demanding Spotify address Joe Rogan anti-vax misinformation

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:56 , Oliver O'Connell

Spotify is being asked to address Covid misinformation by hundreds of scientists and medical professionals, following another controversial Joe Rogan anti-vax episode.

Rogan, who has a reported $100m podcast deal with the streaming giant, interviewed medical doctor Robert Malone in a recent episode, who claimed on his show that Americans were “hypnotised” into wearing masks and getting vaccines.

Malone also told The Joe Rogan Experience that the country suffered from “mass formation psychosis”, which psychology experts say is a concept that does not even exist.

Graeme Massie reports.

270 scientists demand Spotify address Joe Rogan anti-vax misinformation episode

ICYMI: Five times Fauci and Paul clashed over leaked emails, masks and Omicron

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:35 , Oliver O'Connell

The Republican Senator and the federal government’s lead infectious disease expert clashed over emails from early in the pandemic warning of possible “gain of function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the creation of Covid-19.

Mr Paul asked Dr Fauci it was appropriate to use his $420,000 salary to attack scientists who disagreed with the science of Dr Fauci’s, who has become the public face of the federal government’s Covid response.

Justin Vallejo reports.

Five times Anthony Fauci and Rand Paul clashed in testy Senate hearings

Un-vaxxed Quebec father temporarily loses right to see child

Thursday 13 January 2022 17:13 , Oliver O'Connell

A father in Quebec, Canada has temporarily lost the right to see his 12-year-old child because he isn’t vaccinated.

A judge in the province ruled that it wasn’t in the child’s “best interest” to see the parent after the father requested to extend his visiting time during the holiday season.

A family law expert told the Le Devoir paper that it’s the first case of a parent being banned from seeing their child because of their vaccination status.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Unvaccinated dad temporarily loses right to see 12-year-old child over Covid jab

Premium: Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’ after unrelenting conservative criticism

Thursday 13 January 2022 16:50 , Oliver O'Connell

Here’s why Anthony Fauci called a GOP senator a ‘moron’

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting