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Biden administration withdraws vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers

The mandate would have covered more than 80 million workers and prevented more than 6,500 deaths and a quarter-million hospitalizations in the next six months, the administration said.
Image: A woman is tested for Covid-19 at a free testing site in Farragut Square in downtown on Jan. 10, 2022 in Washington, DC
A woman is tested for Covid-19 at a free testing site in Farragut Square in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is withdrawing its Covid vaccination-or-test requirement for large employers, citing the Supreme Court's recent decision to block the rule.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, said Tuesday that the withdrawal of the emergency mandate would be effective Wednesday.

The Supreme Court this month blocked the mandate, which required larger businesses to ensure that workers are vaccinated against Covid-19 or wear masks and get tested weekly. The court's conservative majority said the administration had gone too far in imposing such a sweeping requirement on the country's businesses.

The workplace mandate required companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workers either get vaccinated or wear masks and show negative Covid tests at least once a week. The White House estimated that the requirement would cover 4 million workers.

The White House has issued a series of mandates for workers across the federal government and the health care sector to encourage vaccinations after a surge of coronavirus infections overwhelmed hospitals and led to a spike in deaths over the last several months.

OSHA said that it is withdrawing the requirement as an emergency mandate but not as a proposed rule and that it is "prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard."