American Medical Association warns that pause does serious harm

US President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on the Covid-19 response and vaccination program at the White House on August 23, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

The largest group of doctors in the US warned a federal appeals court on Monday that lifting President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses “would seriously and irreparably harm the public interest” as the high-intensity delta Covid-19 strain spreads.

The American Medical Association, in a statement filed with the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, said Covid-19 poses a “serious danger to society” that “has caused chaos in communities across the country,” killing more than 755,000 Americans, hospitalizing 3.25 million people and infected more than 46 million.

“COVID-19 poses a serious public health risk in the area and across the country,” the physicians association said in a statement. “As of November 12, 2021, more than 76,000 people have died from COVID-19 in just four states in this county,” the group said. The sixth arrondissement covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

The AMA, backing Biden’s policies, told the court that workplace transmission of Covid was instrumental in the spread of the virus, pointing to outbreaks in industries ranging from meat processing and transportation to hospitality and construction.

The Physicians’ Association said Covid vaccines are safe and highly effective, and provide the most effective way to protect workers from infection. The AMA argued that vaccine requirements are “critical” for containing or eradicating infectious diseases, citing past requirements for measles and smallpox vaccines.

“The more workers are vaccinated, the closer we are to slowing the spread of the virus and creating a safer environment,” the doctors’ association told the court. The AMA applied as a friend of the court to provide its expertise, saying it is “interested in providing evidence-based advice on public health issues.”

“Immediate and widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is the surest way to protect the US workforce and population and end this costly pandemic,” the group said.

The filing with the AMA came after a coalition of doctors, nurses and pharmacists released a joint statement in support of Biden’s policies. The team included the AMA, the American College of Physicians, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the National League of Nurses, the National Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association.

“We – doctors, nurses and frontline clinicians, health experts and professional communities – fully support the requirement that workers in companies with more than 100 employees be vaccinated or tested,” the group said in a statement published in last Thursday. “We urge all businesses with 100 or more employees not to delay implementing this standard,” they said.

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit forced the Biden administration to suspend compliance and enforcement. The appellate court, one of the most conservative in the country, suspended the claims pending a hearing on November 6. Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, in a three-judge panel on November 12, said the demands were “fatal. erroneous “and” strikingly overly broad “, causing” serious constitutional problems. “

The Biden administration said the court-ordered pause “will likely cost tens or even hundreds of lives a day” as the virus spreads.

Public health officials are concerned that the US is facing a new wave of infection as Americans head home to escape the winter chill and gather with their families for the holidays. According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States has an average of more than 92,000 infections per day, up 16% from last week.

Roughly 50,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with the virus, up 6% from a week ago, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ seven-day average. The daily average of 1,122 reported deaths tracked by Hopkins has declined slightly over the past week, down 3%. But the rise in the number of cases indicates that the death rate could rise sharply in the next few weeks.

More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed against vaccination and testing requirements. Republican attorneys general, private companies and national industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, the American Freight Forwarding Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business have all sued to overturn the claims. Unions are suing for demands to be expanded to include small businesses and protect more workers.

The lawsuits were referred to the Sixth Judicial Circuit last week after the Biden administration asked a multi-window panel of judges to combine them in a single trial by random selection. Most of the judges in the Sixth Circuit are appointed by Republicans.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees workplace safety for the Department of Labor, has issued regulations as part of its emergency powers set by Congress. OSHA could shorten the normal rule-making process, which could take years if the Secretary of Labor determines that a new workplace safety standard is necessary to protect workers from serious hazards.

Companies with 100 or more employees had to ensure by January 4 that their employees were vaccinated or tested negative for Covid weekly to enter the workplace. Unvaccinated employees were expected to start wearing masks at the indoor workplace starting December 5.

The AMA said Monday that the requirements are “well structured to strongly encourage vaccination.”

With claims currently on hold as the lawsuit draws to a close, the future of Biden’s policies remains uncertain. Lawyers believe that the final decision on the case will be made by the Supreme Court.

“Whoever loses in the Sixth Circuit will go to the Supreme Court,” Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told CNBC.

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