U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said the Biden administration would defend its coronavirus vaccine mandate for employers with at least 100 workers, in an interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy tells @MarthaRaddatz that the Biden administration is “prepared to defend” sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandates against legal challenges, says new requirements are "appropriate and necessary.” https://t.co/wBePNDjF7m pic.twitter.com/B3ZVCk6ODt
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) November 7, 2021
“The president and the administration wouldn’t have put these requirements in place if they didn’t think that they were appropriate and necessary, and the administration is certainly prepared to defend them,” Murthy told host Martha Raddatz.
Raddatz noted that some opponents of the mandate claim it could hurt the economy by leading to worker shortages, if employees refuse to get vaccinated.
“What I hear time and time again from small businesses, large businesses, and workers, is that what’s really hurting the economy is actually COVID itself,” Murthy responded. “Millions of workers have gotten sick because of COVID and predictably been pulled out of work. Millions more have had to be quarantined, and think about how disruptive that’s been to businesses.”
President Biden ordered the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop a mandate for large employers on September 9. The outline of the mandate was released on Thursday, requiring companies to implement vaccine mandates by January 4th or face fines of $13,600 per violation. Unvaccinated employees would be permitted to work if they submit a weekly coronavirus test and wear a mask while on the job.
However, Murthy’s comments come one day after a three-judge panel on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a temporary injunction against the mandate, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”
The suit filed in the Fifth Circuit by states including Louisiana and Texas, businesses and religious groups, claims that such a mandate does not fall under the authority of OSHA.
“That is a quintessential legislative act — and one wholly unrelated to the purpose of OSHA itself, which is protecting workplace safety,” the suit states. “Nowhere in OSHA’s enabling legislation does Congress confer upon it the power to end pandemics.”