Virginia is jumping into legal battles against President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 orders for large employers and healthcare workers as soon as GOP Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin takes over as the chief executive.
Youngkin and Virginia Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares announced the planned action on Friday, saying that the commonwealth will “quickly move to protect Virginians’ freedoms” after Youngkin’s inauguration on January 15, according to CBS 19.
“While we believe that the vaccine is a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, we strongly believe that the Federal government cannot impose its will and restrict the freedoms of Americans and that Virginia is at its best when her people are allowed to make the best decisions for their families or businesses,” Youngkin and Miyares said in a joint statement.
The announcement comes the same day as the Supreme Court hears arguments in both cases over whether to implement injunctions on each of Biden’s orders while legal challenges to the rules are settled in lower courts. The Supreme Court heard arguments Friday morning in the case concerning large employers, which under an emergency Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard would be forced to either vaccinate or test weekly all their employees.
The court appeared to lean against Biden’s vaccinate or test mandate for large employers, but justices appeared more open to Biden’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, according to The New York Times. The Times reported:
Members of the Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed skeptical on Friday that the Biden administration has the legal power to mandate that the nation’s large employers require workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or to undergo frequent testing. A federal workplace safety law, they indicated during a two-hour argument, did not provide legal authority for the sweeping emergency measure.
The court seemed more likely to sustain a separate requirement that health care workers at facilities that receive federal money be vaccinated. That regulation, the subject of a second argument, was in keeping with other kinds of federal oversight and was supported by virtually the entire medical establishment, some justices noted.
Throughout argumentation, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor repeatedly misstated facts about COVID-19, claiming that the Omicron variant is as deadly as the Delta variant and asserting that 100,000 children are hospitalized “in serious condition” because of the virus. Neither claim is supported by evidence, and her claim about hospitalized children is off by many orders of magnitude. As The Daily Wire reported:
Numerous preliminary studies have indicated that Omicron, while more transmissible, is far less deadly than the Delta variant of COVID-19. Likewise, real-world data show that while the vaccine may reduce the severity of a COVID-19 case, it does not necessarily prevent transmission of the virus to other people.
On Wednesday, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that “multiple sources of now-preliminary data indicate a decrease severity with Omicron.”
“Fauci cited a study from Ontario, Canada, that found the risk of hospitalization or death was 65% lower among people infected with omicron compared with individuals who caught delta. The risk of admission to an intensive care unit or death from omicron was 83% lower, according to the study,” CNBC reported.