WASHINGTON—A federal judge in Louisiana on Tuesday issued a ruling blocking nationwide the Biden administration mandate requiring millions of health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
A suit challenging the mandate was led on behalf of multiple states including Georgia by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, and U.S. Judge Terry Doughty granted the states’ request for a preliminary injunction.
Doughty said in his opinion that he extended the injunction beyond those states and to the entire U.S. because “there are unvaccinated healthcare workers in other states who also need protection.”
Other states joining Louisiana in its suit, filed Nov. 15, included Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.
Doughty, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said that “this Court believes the balance of equities and the public interest favors the issuance of a preliminary injunction.”
“The public interest is served by maintaining the constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals who do not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” he wrote. “This interest outweighs Government Defendants’ interests. “
At issue is President Joe Biden’s campaign to ensure that workers throughout the country are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Under Biden’s order, many private-sector employees were required to get vaccinated or undergo weekly tests, while some 17 million health care providers at facilities participating in the federal Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs must be vaccinated — with no option to choose weekly testing instead.
Under the requirement, health care workers were to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr expressed vindication Tuesday after Doughty’s ruling.
Becker’s Hospital Review reported earlier this month that a federal study found 30 percent of health care workers in 2,000 hospitals across the U.S. remained unvaccinated as of Sept. 15.
“I applaud Judge Doughty for recognizing that Louisiana is likely to succeed on the merits and for delivering yet another victory for the medical freedom of Americans,” Landry said in a statement. “While Joe Biden villainizes our healthcare heroes with his ‘jab or job’ edicts, I will continue to stand up to the President’s bully tactics and fight for liberty.”
The Louisiana ruling followed another on Monday by a federal judge in Missouri that blocked enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions in 10 states.
That ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp, another Trump appointee, affected the states involved in that lawsuit: Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wyoming and Alaska.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the administration is “obviously going to abide by the law and fight any efforts in courts or otherwise” to prevent health care facilities from protecting their work forces.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is laying some of the blame for an ongoing workforce shortage in senior care facilities and at other health care providers on the mandates pushing people out of the profession to escape being forced to take the vaccines.
Senior care facility managers are struggling to balance their desire for COVID-19 safety precautions with a need for workers who are resisting the vaccines.
“We believe COVID-19 vaccinations are critical to ensuring the safety of the vulnerable individuals residing in nursing centers, and we appreciate efforts to increase uptake in long term care,” said Devon Barill, director of communications for a Georgia senior care industry association. “However, we are concerned that the mandate could exacerbate the significant workforce crisis long-term care communities are already experiencing.”
Because the mandate would apply to all facilities that treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, it covers the vast majority of the nation’s hospitals, home health care services and other medical service providers that depend on federal payments.
Additionally, Kemp and Carr are fighting in district court federal vaccination mandates for employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors.
The governor vowed Tuesday to continue the state’s legal battles against vaccine mandates ordered by the Biden administration.1/2: Our legal efforts have temporarily halted Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate for health care workers nationwide. We hear daily from health care heroes who are in fear of being forced to chose between this vaccine or their livelihood.
Georgia Recorder Editor John McCosh contributed to this report.
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