The judge’s order, which covers the 10 states that brought the case, downplayed the effectiveness of the vaccines and said that “the public would suffer little, if any, from maintaining the ‘status quo’ for the litigation of this case ”.
The warrant came from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid of the US Department of Health and Human Services. It covers some healthcare workers from providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid, and sets a deadline of December 6 for these workers to receive the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
It will be blocked in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming
U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp, appointed by President Donald Trump, said in a 32-page order that those challenging the warrant would likely be successful in their arguments that CMS lacked the authority to implement the requirement . He also said the administration likely violated administrative law in the way it deployed the policy. In issuing the preliminary injunction, Schelp pointed to the challengers’ claims that healthcare facilities would experience significant staff shortages if the requirement was not blocked.
Vaccines have been widely shown to be an essential tool in stopping the spread of Covid-19. Schelp, however, pointed to a line in the regulatory brief unveiling the terms of reference that noted uncertainties regarding the effects of the vaccine, including its effectiveness in preventing “transmission of the disease from those vaccinated.”
Schelp referred to this line several times in his order. “And although, according to CMS, the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing transmission of the disease from those vaccinated is not currently known, what is known from the evidence before the Court is that the mandate will have a crippling effect on a significant number of health care facilities in claimant states, particularly in rural areas, ”he said.
The judge said that CMS, in developing the requirement, relied too much on data from long-term care facilities to justify implementing the mandate on other types of providers.
“While an extended mandate may make sense in the context of LTC, based on the evidence from CMS, CMS does not present any similar evidence to impose an extended mandate on the other fourteen covered establishments,” Schelp wrote.
The case was brought last month by Missouri and nine other states. This is one of many lawsuits attacking the HHS mandate, and the Biden administration faces legal challenges over other vaccine mandates the federal government has sought to implement. In another Florida case against the HHS rule, a judge denied Florida’s request to block the warrant.
At a press conference after the order was issued, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called the judge’s order “significant” and “the first of its kind.” He said he expected the Justice Department to appeal the case and eventually go to the Supreme Court.
Schmitt was asked about the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus, which was not detected until around the time the briefing on the preliminary injunction request was ending in the Missouri case.
“We should continue to want to know more about any variant, and the truth is, Covid is with us. There will always be a new variant, ”said Schmitt. “But I think people are fed up with the government locking people up, they are fed up with the government instituting mask warrants, they are fed up with the government instituting vaccine requirements.” And so, whenever there is overbreadth, we will push back. “
This story has been updated with additional details.