WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court has kept its blockade in place against a federal mandate that all major employers require their workers to be vaccinated against coronavirus or undergo weekly tests starting in January, stating that the rule “grossly violates” the authority of the National Board of Occupational Safety and Health that issued it.
In a 22 page ruling, a panel of three judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, ruled that a group of contenders for the mandate issued by the Biden administration were likely to succeed in their claim that it was an illegal overrun and ruled out the government from moving forward with it.
“From economic insecurity to workplace strife, the mere ghost of the mandate has contributed to countless economic upheavals in recent months,” Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt wrote.
He added: “Of course, the principles at stake when it comes to the mandate cannot be reduced to dollars and cents. The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the freedom of individuals to make intensely personal decisions under to their own convictions – themselves, or perhaps especially when those decisions frustrate officials. “
He was joined by judges Edith H. Jones and Kyle Duncan. All three are Republican nominees.
The Biden administration is likely to appeal, but a Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Either way, it is unlikely that the ruling from the panel in the fifth circuit will be the last word. Some challenges to the mandate are in other circles and the cases will be consolidated before one randomly selected one of these jurisdictions. The Supreme Court is expected to ultimately decide the case.
President Biden announced in September that his administration would issue a vaccine mandate as one of several steps to try to increase the immunization rate and end the pandemic that has so far killed about 750,000 Americans. Other mandates applied to federal employees and federal contractors.
Some large employers have already decided on their own to impose vaccine mandates on their workforces, including 3M, Procter & Gamble, IBM, Tyson Foods and the airlines American, Alaska, JetBlue and United. Most workers have complied, although a small number have resigned.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor of Oklahoma this week fired the state’s highest-ranking military official, a vocal backer of Covid vaccinations, and replaced him with a general who immediately issued orders contrary to federal vaccine requirements for military personnel.
The governor, Kevin Stitt, is one of a number of Republican government officials across the country who have fought against President Biden’s vaccine mandates, which cover federal employees, federal contractors and the military.
State’s newly appointed Adjutant General, Brig. General Thomas H. Mancino on Thursday issued a note that read, in part, “I hereby order that no Oklahoma Guardsmen take the Covid-19 vaccine, regardless of other federal requirements.”
The memo also noted that the state will continue to consider applications for vaccine exemptions, even though the federal military authorities have so far granted very few. It also said, “no negative administrative or legal action will be taken against security guards who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine.”
It remained unclear whether General Mancino’s policy would run counter to the Pentagon’s vaccine mandate. In August, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said all active military members should receive a Covid-19 vaccine immediately. The Directive covered members of the armed forces “in active service or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard.”
General Mancino issued the note a day after Mr Stitt unexpectedly fired Major General Michael C. Thompson as adjutant general.
General Thompson, a 38-year-old military veteran and Army State Guard first black general, said Mr Stitt had pressured state military officials to meet federal vaccine requirements, saying his own position was instead to warn state troops that ” are consequences “for rejecting vaccination orders.
He said the governor gave no explanation when he called Wednesday to release him from command.
“It’s political,” General Thompson said. “There’s no other reason for that.”
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
General Thompson said the lack of vaccinations would adversely affect the National Guard’s troop readiness. “I hate to see that we do not meet the mark when we need it,” he added.
Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Legler, officer of public affairs for the Oklahoma National Guard, said Mr. Stitt operated on the principle that he had “complete control” over the power of the state.
But the officer noted that members of the National Guard attending federally funded schools in Oklahoma were still subject to the federal vaccination mandate.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca has sold its coronavirus vaccine at not-for-profit prices during the pandemic, as part of a promise to roll out the vaccine at cost price through the crisis.
But on Friday, the Anglo-Swiss company said yes reports its earnings for the third quarter that it would begin to price its vaccine to make a “modest” profit “as new orders are received.” Countries have paid about $ 3 or $ 4 for each shot of AstraZeneca’s two-dose vaccine under the company’s current pricing model.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has, to a far greater extent than the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, been the workhorse in efforts to vaccinate poorer countries, many of which face severe vaccine shortages. About 1.1 billion AstraZeneca doses had reached low- and low-middle-income countries by the end of October.
The company’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, told analysts on Friday that AstraZeneca would gradually transition “to a for-profit approach”, but added that the company “will ensure the vaccine is affordable for low- and middle-income countries.” He gave few details about the new pricing.
Last year, AstraZeneca did not promise to take advantage of its pandemic vaccine, but the company retained estimates of when the crisis would be declared over. Researchers at the University of Oxford, who led the early development of the vaccine, said they partnered with AstraZeneca last spring, in part because the company had agreed to their vision of low-priced shots for their shots.
UK health authorities given early funding to the Oxford team. Nick Dearden, director of the British advocacy firm Global Justice Now, said in a statement that the company’s decision to start making money on the vaccine “shows the complete foolishness of giving away publicly funded science away to big drugs.”
AstraZeneca and its worldwide production partners had released more than 1.7 billion doses of the vaccine by the end of October, bearing more than 170 countries, a spokesman for AstraZeneca said. The vaccine is not approved or available in the United States.
The company said its vaccine brought in $ 2.1 billion in revenue by the end of September. It expected that its revenue from the vaccine in the last three months of this year would come mainly from existing non-profit orders, with a small contribution from new, more profitable orders.
Johnson & Johnson – which, like AstraZeneca, had promised to sell its vaccine at a not-for-profit price – expects $ 2.5 billion in revenue from its vaccine this year. Moderna, which has not made such a promise, expects up to $ 18 billion from its vaccine. Pfizer, which also has for-profit prices, expects $ 36 billion from its vaccine; it shares revenue with its development partner, the German company BioNTech.
Customers around the world apologize for airlines’ wait times for customer service and the process of rebooking canceled flights. Virtually all airlines’ social media accounts are flooded with stories of hours of waiting to talk to someone – even on relatively normal days.
“It’s a joke all over,” said Gilles Alexandre Bussutil, a consultant who specializes in helping airlines improve the customer experience.
The problems, according to many airlines, booking agents and industry analysts, have to do with staff, but exactly who or what is to blame depends on who you ask. Some airlines, including Southwest, have acknowledged that they have recently failed customers and need to hire more agents. But others have suggested that the exorbitant wait times in early summer are ancient history, something that does not seem to be reflected in customers’ stories.
“Oh yes, it has been taken care of; it’s under control, ”said Omar Martinez, a longtime JetBlue loyalist who felt tempted to give up on the airline. In August, Mr Martinez spent 275 minutes on a call to a case that a street agent told him could only be resolved over the phone. But when he talks to friends and looks on social media, he has yet to find an airline without similar issues.
Most airlines plan to hire, but passengers may not see lower waiting times just yet, several industry analysts said, citing a number of factors, including general labor shortages, the difficulty of hiring skilled labor for relatively low wages and airlines’ labor shortages. efficiency in the deployment of staff.