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Federal judge blocks COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers

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A Louisiana-based federal judge issued an injunction Tuesday that puts on hold the federal COVID vaccination requirement for health care workers at facilities that get Medicaid or Medicare funding.

According to the ruling, the injunction will apply nationwide, except for 10 states where the mandate has been blocked by a prior federal court ruling out of St. Louis.

The ruling comes as Florida pursues its own challenge to the rule. On Monday, a federal judge in Pensacola approved allowing the state and Biden administration to quickly take the case to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Terry Doughty, of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Louisiana, issued Tuesday’s ruling blocking the mandate, which would have applied to the more than 10 million U.S. health care.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and the attorneys general of 13 other states sued the Biden administration over the rule this month.

Doughty’s ruling said the mandate amounted to a violation of unvaccinated health care workers’ civil liberties and that the administration usurped the power of Congress to make laws.

Doughty wrote that the court considered limiting the injunction to the 14 plaintiff states, but said there were “unvaccinated health care workers in other states who also need protection.”

The decision affecting health care workers comes just before the Monday deadline for workers to receive their first shot.

Meantime, a Kentucky-based U.S. District judge granted a preliminary injunction against the rule mandating the vaccine for federal contractors. That case impacts Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove wrote “the question presented here is narrow. Can the president use congressionally delegated authority to manage the federal procurement of goods and services to impose vaccines on the employees of federal contractors and subcontractors? In all likelihood, the answer to that question is no.”

The administration has pursued vaccine requirements on several groups of workers at it seeks to get more shots in arms to crush the virus, but the effort is facing one setback after another in legal cases.

This week, the Missouri judge blocked the administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on thousands of health care workers in in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Earlier, a federal appeals court temporarily halted the OSHA requirement that employers with 100 or more workers ensure they are fully vaccinated.

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