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Judge Declines Florida Request To Immediately Block Biden HHS Vaccine Rule For Health Care Workers

A federal court judge said this weekend that she would not stop the Biden government’s vaccination mandate for health-care employees while a Florida case contesting the mandate is pending.

In denying Florida’s motion for a preliminary injunction barring the health care worker mandate, US District Judge Casey Rodgers stated that the state had not demonstrated “irreparable harm” if the mandate was not blocked before it went into effect next month.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been a vocal opponent of President Joe Biden’s efforts to require immunizations. The state is also participating in other litigation contesting the Biden administration’s mandate for government contractors, as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s immunization guidelines. Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature also passed laws last week that would impose fines on employers who demand immunizations as a condition of employment, at DeSantis’ insistence.

“The affidavits in favor of the request contain allegations of how the different agencies and institutions anticipate being negatively impacted by the mandate,” the judge, who was appointed by George W. Bush, said in a ruling published Saturday.

“In example, the affidavits contain the views of agency heads who ‘guess’ that they ‘may’ lose a specific percentage or number of personnel, or speculate on the implications they will face ‘if widespread resignations occurred,” Rodgers said. “However, in the absence of supporting factual information, such conclusions remain speculative and should be treated as conclusory.”

The Biden government’s healthcare professional strategy, which is being administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, requires health care employees at specified providers who participate in Medicaid and Medicare to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with the first dose due on December 6. Earlier in the month, Florida filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Florida contesting the policy, asking the court to stay the HHS regulation while the litigation was pending.

The state stated in its pleadings that Florida health care institutions were at risk of losing federal funds or experiencing staffing shortages owing to employees’ unwillingness to be vaccinated. Courts are debating whether to issue preliminary rulings barring the requirement in at least two additional challenges brought by other states.

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