Nurses in Houston, Texas, on Jan. 8, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
The Epoch Times
The federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers is now enforceable in all 50 U.S. states after a federal court on Wednesday tossed out a lawsuit from Texas.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in mid-December entered a preliminary injunction to temporarily block the mandate, pending a trial on the merits of the case.
The preliminary injunction meant that the vaccine mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was put on hold in 25 states, including Texas, while it was still in effect in another 25 states.
The Biden administration then moved to appeal the injunction on Jan. 14.
But Texas on Tuesday moved to dismiss the case after the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 13 lifted injunctions that blocked the CMS vaccine mandate. The Texas district court’s dismissal of the case on Wednesday marks the first time the CMS can enforce its mandate across the United States. The case is Texas v. Becerra, N.D. Tex., No. 2:21-cv-00229.
When the CMS mandate first went into effect on Nov. 5, 2021, many Republican-led states challenged the policy and several federal judges temporarily blocked the mandate later that month.
The Supreme Court’s decision on Jan. 13 was made after it heard arguments from two separate lawsuits brought by 24 states against the CMS mandate. Texas had filed its own lawsuit against the mandate, so the Supreme Court’s decision did not affect Texas providers.
The CMS mandate requires full vaccination against COVID-19 for 10.4 million workers at Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities across the country, according to the federal government—down from the over 17 million workers it originally said. There are medical and religious exemptions, but no exemptions for people who have developed natural immunity from having had past COVID-19. There is also no option of weekly testing.
The CMS announced Jan. 15 that medical facilities in 24 states that were newly affected by the Supreme Court decision had until March 15 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, health care workers in federal facilities in 25 other states not involved in the lawsuits that reached the Supreme Court have until Jan. 27 to receive the first dose, and Feb. 28 to receive the second dose.
The CMS at the time said Texas was not affected due to ongoing litigation. The agency has yet to announce any new deadlines for Texas health care workers.