As the White House vowed on Sunday morning to defend its federal vaccine mandates against court challenges, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy didn’t rule out the possibility of future mandates for smaller companies.
Murthy told host Martha Raddatz of ABC’s This Week that “the administration is certainly prepared to defend” the new vaccine mandate announced earlier in the week applying to large businesses, calling them “appropriate and necessary.”
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on NBC’s Meet the Press he was “confident” the administration’s mandate would be upheld by the courts despite the temporary halt.
In response to a question from Raddatz, Murthy hinted that the administration would consider extending the decree to include those companies with fewer than 100 employees, telling her “certainly nothing is off the table” but that the focus for the moment is on implementing existing rules.
Murthy also argued that “what’s really hurting the economy is actually COVID itself,” saying the mandate is a “necessary step to accelerate our pathway out of the pandemic” and pointing out the extensive historical precedents for vaccine mandates.
On Saturday the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the mandate from OSHA requiring workers at companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated by January 4 or face regular testing. More than two dozen Republican-led states have filed lawsuits opposing the new rules for private companies, including Florida, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana. The various lawsuits have described the mandate as “un-American” and an “outrageous overreach.” Even one Democratic governor, Kansas’ Laura Kelly, came out against the mandates, and the state’s Republican attorney general was among those to sue. Enforcing such rules for private companies can be trickier than doing so for federal employees and contractors.
What To Watch For
Murthy also expressed optimism about the new vaccine rollout for young children, saying he planned to take his own child to get the shot. And while he acknowledged the latest COVID-19 pill treatments under consideration by the FDA, he reiterated that “a pill is not a substitute for getting vaccinated.”
“Appeals court stays vaccine mandate on larger businesses” (Associated Press)