Biden COVID-19 vaccine mandate reinstated by federal appeals court

Employees at companies with at least 100 workers will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a weekly negative test.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
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Woman showing digital proof of vaccination on a smartphone
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President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate has been reinstated after a decision Friday by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. This follows the vaccine mandate being temporarily blocked by a federal appeals panel in Louisiana last month.

The mandate requires employees at companies of at least 100 workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a weekly negative test. But Louisiana, Texas, Utah, South Carolina and Mississippi had joined with businesses as well as religious and advocacy organizations to file for a permanent injunction against the mandate. 

Read more: Biden COVID vaccine mandate news

The 2-1 ruling Friday to reinstate the mandate said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration "has demonstrated the pervasive danger that COVID-19 poses to workers -- unvaccinated workers in particular -- in their workplaces. OSHA explains why the mechanics of COVID-19 transmission make our traditional workplaces ripe for the spread of the disease, putting workers at heightened risk of contracting it ... transmissibility is possible from those who are symptomatic, asymptomatic or presymptomatic, and variants are likely to be more transmissible."

The US reached the grim milestone of 800,000 COVID-19 deaths this week, according to numbers from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. With the emergence of the highly infectious omicron variant, COVID-19 cases are rapidly on the rise again.

"The number of deaths in America has now topped 800,000 and health care systems across the nation have reached the breaking point. COVID-19 affects individuals of all age groups; but on the whole 'working age Americans (18-64 years old) now have a 1 in 14 chance of hospitalization when infected with COVID-19,'" the ruling Friday added.

On Saturday, the Labor Department said OSHA wouldn't issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the mandate before Jan. 10 or citations for noncompliance with the testing requirements before Feb. 9, "so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard."

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.