US Court of Appeals rules in favor of COVID vaccine mandate, OSHA vaccine mandate penalties will start on Jan. 10

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District in Cincinnati decided on Friday that the COVID vaccine mandate for large employers could go forward, reversing a previous court decision made after 27 Republican-led states, conservative groups, business associations, and some individual companies challenged the mandate.

The Biden administration’s vaccine requirement applies to companies with 100 or more employees and covers about 84 million U.S. workers. Employees who are not fully vaccinated have to wear face masks and be subject to weekly COVID-19 tests. There are exceptions for those who work outdoors or only at home.

The mandate was previously slated to take effect on Jan. 4.

Administration officials estimate that the mandate will save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over six months.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration said Saturday that it would not issue citations tied to its coronavirus vaccination mandate before Jan. 10, so that companies have time to adjust to and implement the requirements. The federal agency separately said there would be no citations of companies regarding its testing requirements before Feb. 9.

OSHA said in a statement that it would not issue citations before the listed dates “so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.”

President Biden is slated to make an omicron-focused speech Tuesday as the variant continues to circulate in the U.S. and elsewhere, the White House announced on Saturday.

“On Tuesday, the President will deliver remarks on the status of the country’s fight against COVID-19, as the country sees rising cases amid the growing Omicron variant,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Saturday.

“Building off his Winter Plan, @POTUS will announce new steps the Administration is taking to help communities in need of assistance, while also issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated,” Psaki added. She noted that the president will also detail how the administration will respond to an anticipated rise in case numbers and remind Americans to get their boosters and vaccines.