Thanks, U.S. Supreme Court, for a mixed-message coronavirus pandemic decision that, to humans with frail bodies in negligent states like Florida, may be a death sentence.
In a two-part ruling, the court decided Thursday that the Biden administration cannot enforce a COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate issued to large businesses who employ some 84 million Americans.
So we’re “free” in Florida to work alongside unvaccinated dolts.
It’s their right to go without — and our bad luck if we have to work near them. New cubicle wars, anyone?
But, at least the court agreed that vaccine mandates can be required for most of the 10.4 million healthcare workers at 76,000 federally funded facilities nationwide.
This is very helpful if you go to one of those quacks who believes in debunked herd-immunity theories like Florida’s surgeon general, Joseph A. Ladapo.
In Solomonic fashion, the vaccine-mandate baby has been cut in half.
It’s something, but not nearly enough.
The highest court in the land could’ve — should’ve — been the place from where extreme partisan politics is extracted when it comes to COVID-19 management, which should be strictly a public-health issue guided by science and medicine.
But, in these troubled times, the last bastion of hope is also contaminated by partisanship and political extremism, and debts are owed to the Republican president who rammed through appointments, and the Republican congressional leaders who hastened questionable confirmations.
Their split decision between the general public and healthcare workers seems to indicate that, when faced with the unprecedented, err on the side of conservatism.
Something as simple as a worker getting a lifesaving vaccine or taking a weekly COVID test to keep others safe cannot be mandated by an employer — and enforced by the federal government agency in charge of workplace rules, OSHA, the court ruled 6-3.
“Congress has nowhere clearly assigned so much power to OSHA,” wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch, adding that in the two years since the pandemic began there has been plenty of opportunity for Congress to give OSHA that statutory authority, but it hasn’t.
And so, if COVID is the ultimate test about whether the government should care about Americans’ health, this court decided that the federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction to give a damn — even during an unprecedented pandemic.
Unvaccinated fools can celebrate the win — and in Florida, they already are.
When asked what Gov. Ron DeSantis would do about the healthcare-worker mandate, spokeswoman Christina Pushaw reacted with a vow — or was it a threat?
We ain’t policing healthcare workers.
“The state of Florida is not going to serve as the Biden administration’s biomedical police,” Pushaw pontificated, followed by a hefty dose of political diatribe.
I asked @GovRonDeSantis spokesperson @ChristinaPushaw whether Florida planned to comply with the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for health care facilities for the time being in light of today's Supreme Court ruling. Here's some of what she said: pic.twitter.com/eK0xRnlfk1
— Kirby Wilson (@KirbyWTweets) January 13, 2022
And then, she gave healthcare workers instructions on how to get around the vaccine mandate.
“I would encourage healthcare workers to fill out the relevant exemption form on the @HealthyFla website. Personal belief or medical. It’s very easy and quick.”
Oh, the malice, they don’t even hide it.
So now you’re free, Floridians, from owning the consequences of making bad decisions, whether based on fear or political stance.
You’re free to contaminate patients and coworkers with a highly contagious, mutating virus that has lifelong consequences for a patient’s health. A virus that can kill people with weak immune systems and other morbidities, or send them to the hospital for long stays and uncertain rehabilitation.
Roll the dice, American workers, gambling with health is now legal.
Coworkers are free to come to work with COVID as they did with a terrible cold or the flu with no interference from a boss or OSHA.
The court’s conservative majority found a way to sock it to President Joe Biden. Who does he think he is requiring that employees working at businesses with more than 100 employees vaccinate against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing — and wear a mask on the job?
The political fallout of the SCOTUS decision is obvious.
DeSantis can continue to use the lack of COVID mandates as another election-time campaign trinket to dangle over the lost and confused.
The mounting human cost — Florida just surpassed 63,000 deaths — remains to be seen as the virus finds all those welcoming hosts in the Sunshine State.
It’s what you get when you pack SCOTUS with partisans who add to the COVID confusion in this shrinking, unhealthy world.