By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to take up disputes over the Biden administration’s nationwide vaccine-or-testing COVID-19 mandate for large businesses and a separate vaccine requirement for healthcare workers.
The brief court order said the court will hear oral arguments on Jan. 7 in the two cases.
The court delayed action on emergency requests in both cases that sought an immediate decision. The workplace mandate is currently in effect nationwide, while the healthcare worker mandate is blocked in half the 50 U.S. states.
The challenges reached the high court as the new, highly transmissible Omicron variant surges, with public health officials bracing for a “tidal wave” https://www.reuters.com/world/us/tidal-wave-omicron-could-put-us-covid-19-surge-into-overdrive-2021-12-17 of cases in the United States.
An appeals court on Friday allowed the workplace mandate, which covers 80 million American workers, to go into effect prompting businesses, states and other groups challenging the policy to ask the Supreme Court to block it.
The other case concerns whether the administration can require healthcare workers at facilities that treat federally funded Medicare and Medicaid patients to receive shots while litigation continues.
The Biden administration asked the court to allow the policy to go into effect in 24 states in which it was blocked by lower courts. It is also blocked in Texas in a separate case not before the justices.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)