Federal lawyers frame COVID vaccine mandate in life-and-death terms

November 9, 2021
Global COVID deaths surpass 5 million despite abundance of vaccines


The Biden administration framed its vaccine mandate for private employers in life-and-death terms Monday in a legal filing that sought to get the requirement back on track after it was halted by a federal court.

The filing is in response to a stay issued over the weekend by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there is no reason to rush into a ruling on whether the halt should be made permanent because the vaccine mandate won’t take effect until Jan. 4.

Stopping the mandate from taking effect will only prolong the COVID-19 pandemic and would “cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day,” lawyers for the justice and labor departments said.

As of Monday, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. was 1,110, but it’s not clear what role a future vaccine mandate for private businesses would play in reducing that figure.

The mandate would apply to private businesses with more than 100 workers. Employees who do not receive the shots by Jan. 4 would be required to wear a mask and be tested weekly for the coronavirus.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules issued last week create exemptions for workers citing religious objections and for those who do not interact in-person with coworkers or customers, as well as those who work only outdoors.

Also in the news:

►Vaccinated travelers were welcomed back to U.S. Monday as the COVID-19 travel ban ended after more than 600 days.

►A data survey from The New York Times has shown that the gap in COVID-19 deaths rates between red and blue counties grew faster in October than any previous month.

Kentucky has surpassed 10,000 deaths from COVID since March 2020, a stark outcome as the virus continues its spread throughout the state — striking hardest at those not vaccinated.

📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 46 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 755,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 250 million cases and 5 million deaths. More than 194 million Americans — 58% of the population — are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

📘 What we’re reading: COVID continues to be present on cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obtained by USA TODAY shows. But travelers are feeling more secure with the protocols in place.

Keep refreshing this page for the latest news. Want more? Sign up for USA TODAY’s Coronavirus Watch newsletter to receive updates directly to your inbox, and join our Facebook group.

Navajo Nation reports no COVID-19 deaths for 25th time in 40 days

The Navajo Nation on Monday reported 39 more COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths for the 25th time in the past 40 days.

The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s totals to 37,455 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

The known death toll remains at 1,498.

Based on cases from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4, the Navajo Department of Health on Monday issued an advisory for 56 communities due to an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

“We have to be very careful, take precautions, wear masks in public, get fully vaccinated, and limit traveling off the Navajo Nation,” tribal President Jonathan Nez said. “We all have to do our part to push back on COVID-19.”

All Navajo Nation executive branch employees had to be fully vaccinated against the virus by the end of September or submit to regular testing.

The tribe’s reservation is the country’s largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

— Associated Press

Contributing: The Associated Press


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