Court stays the Biden OSHA COVID vaccine mandate — an analysis

OSHA COVID-19 vaccine mandate

This article about the Court of Appeals stay of President Biden’s OSHA COVID vaccine mandate was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On November 6, 2021, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed President Biden’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) – the emergency temporary standard by which OSHA required large employers to adopt a COVID-19 vaccine or test mandate – citing grave constitutional and statutory concerns.

On November 12, 2021, the Fifth Circuit published a decision keeping in place its stay and elaborating on the reasons. The decision is concerning — first, the legal analysis does not follow established law in several ways, and the innovations (or misapplications) are not well reasoned. Second, the decision suggests a lack of close reading of the Emergency Temporary Standard the decision is putting on hold. And third, and perhaps most concerning, the decision suggests the panel attributes little to no importance to halting COVID-19, or to the fact that over a thousand people in the United States are dying from COVID-19 every day, or to the fact that the ETS is estimated to save thousands of workers lives and prevent a quarter of a million hospitalizations, under conservative assumptions.

All of these give cause for concern if the Fifth Circuit is the one chosen under the lottery to hear the cases against the mandate. A panel that clearly ascribes little importance to protecting employees from COVID-19 is unlikely to consider the need for a mandate carefully. 

To be clear, the bar for putting out an ETS is high. Another panel may end up not upholding the ETS for not meeting that high bar, and that would be well within the lines of existing jurisprudence. But this decision isn’t it. 

Continue reading “Court stays the Biden OSHA COVID vaccine mandate — an analysis”

Review of religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate

close up photo of a lined up covid vaccines

After President Joe Biden issued a mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine, many anti-vaxxers looked for religious exemptions so that they would not have to get the vaccine. Although no major religion is opposed to vaccines, people have used religious exemptions to avoid vaccinations in the past, it’s just become more serious these days with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

In the USA, people will use this as a “freedom of religion” cause, claiming that they have some constitutional right to avoid the COVID-19 vaccine with a religious exemption. This is a legal issue, which Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has addressed these issues several times recently. Although I am not a legal expert, blanket religious exemptions can be rejected without worrying about violating someone’s freedom of religion.

In my previous article about religions and vaccines, it is clear that almost every mainstream religion, from almost all Christian sects to Judaism to Islam, shows unambiguous support of vaccines. And for completeness, I’m going to go through each of these religions and describe their support of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Right-wing science denier Dr. Jane Orient testified to Senate about COVID-19 vaccines

She’s baaaaaack. The obnoxious, science-denying, far-right, anti-vaccine, vile Dr. Jane Orient was called to testify before the United Stated States regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Predictably, pro-science Senators (Democrats, mostly) were not amused that she testified about the vaccine.

I’ve written about Dr. Orient several times in the past.  She has written an assessment of Hillary Clinton’s health without ever meeting her. She has complained about aluminum in vaccines. It goes on and on with her. She got into a “fight” with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about climate change

Jane Orient, the anti-vaccine, climate change denier, right-wing quack MD

So, let’s talk about Dr. Jane Orient and what she said. None of it will make you happy.

Continue reading “Right-wing science denier Dr. Jane Orient testified to Senate about COVID-19 vaccines”

Create an independent FDA, CDC – new COVID-19 vaccines required it

independent CDC FDA

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent rush for treatments and vaccines for the virus have renewed calls for a more independent FDA and CDC. Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, who is a frequent contributor to this space, has written two powerful articles arguing for an independent CDC and FDA.

If you have followed the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responses have been politicized to the point that even those of us who have strongly supported those two agencies are appalled. 

The CDC has been pushed to scrub information and data to make the Trump administration look good. Recently, it was reported that one of Trump’s minions tried to pressure CDC regarding the transmission of the virus to kids to get it in line with the nonsense being pushed during Trump’s failed presidential campaign.

And then the FDA gave Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) to hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir for treatment of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the data showed that hydroxychloroquine does not work and remdesivir has only a marginal effect on outcomes. In each case, it appears that the FDA was more interested in promoting these drugs to support President Trump’s wild claims that he was “doing something” about the pandemic, rather than relying upon robust science.

Professor Reiss has written two articles about how we might create a more powerful and independent FDA and CDC by utilizing the types of structures of actual independent agencies within the Federal Government. I want to quickly review what she proposes because I think it’s a conversation that we hope that President-elect Joe Biden might embrace during the next few years.

The problem is that 

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Pro-science Joe Biden – he deserves our support for President

Joe Biden science

In case you’re living under a rock and reading this, the United States will choose either pro-science Joe Biden or science-denying Donald Trump to be our next president. There are a lot of reasons to support former Vice President Biden over Trump, but the biggest one for me is that he’s pro-science.

Science matters. And it matters more than just climate change, vaccines, COVID-19 pandemic, and many other issues that are critical to the world these days. It is also relevant to healthcare, women’s health, abortion, and competitiveness in today’s world.

I know that none of you who read this blog will be surprised that I give my strongest endorsement of the pro-science Joe Biden over that Nazi Republican Donald Trump. But let me show where Biden and science are sympatico with mine. And hopefully, yours. Continue reading “Pro-science Joe Biden – he deserves our support for President”