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AG Fitch Asks Court to Block Vaccine Mandate For Hospital, Nursing Home Workers

Lynn Fitch seated in her office
Americans owe health care workers "the respect that they know how to best care for their own" health, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said as she filed a lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for 17 million health care workers. Photo courtesy Lynn Fitch

For the third time this month, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch is asking a federal court to block one of President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In a lawsuit filed with the U.S. Western District Court of Louisiana’s Monroe Division, she joined 12 other attorneys general in asking a federal judge to halt enforcement of a vaccine mandate affecting 17 million health-care workers, including those at hospitals and nursing homes.

“For nearly two years, health care workers have cared for the sick and dying at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fitch said in a statement announcing the lawsuit this morning. “They have gone above and beyond the call of duty, sacrificing time with their families and their own health, and enduring enormous stress and long hours. 

“Now, for no other reason than the President’s desire to check the box on universal vaccination, these heroes are being forced to choose between vaccination and their jobs. We have trusted them with our health for two years; we owe them the respect that they know how to best care for their own now.”

On Friday, a Republican-appointed three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to temporarily block another Biden vaccine mandate for companies with 100 employees or more pending further consideration. In a filing Monday, the Biden administration asked the court to lift the stay, saying it “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.”

COVID-19 has killed more than 750,000 Americans, including over 10,000 Mississippians. Data show the vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness or death and significantly cutting down on transmission.

The rule at issue in Fitch’s latest suit is one the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published on Nov. 5, 2021, requiring health-care workers to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, in order to continue working in their fields. 

The Biden administration’s mandate at issue in this lawsuit applies to employees, contractors, trainees and students working at 21 types of Medicare or Medicaid-providers, including ambulatory surgical centers, hospices, long-term psychiatric treatment facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities, clinics, rehabilitation centers, public health agencies, outpatient physical therapy and more.

Fitch filed today’s lawsuit in conjunction with the Republican attorneys generals for Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

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