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Legal action halts federal vaccine mandate for health care workers

On Monday, a federal district court in Missouri issued an injunction that temporarily blocks President Joe Biden's Covid-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid-at least for now. Ten states were included in that lawsuit including Wyoming, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Also on Monday, a medical freedom rally was held in front of Hot Springs Health during the noon hour. The rally was held to show support for healthcare workers and individuals choice to make their own medical decisions.

Then on Tuesday, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt the start of President Biden's national vaccine mandate for health care workers nationwide, which had been set to begin next week. The injunction, written by Judge Terry A. Doughty, effectively expanded the separate order issued on Monday by the federal court in Missouri.

The mandate originally came out of the US Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It covers certain health care staff at providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid, and set a December 6 deadline for those workers to have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Governor Mark Gordon issued a statement following the Monday inunction stating that he welcomed the preliminary injunction issued by the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri that halts implementation and enforcement of a rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would impose a vaccine mandate on healthcare workers. Governor Gordon and Attorney General Bridget Hill entered Wyoming in this lawsuit, challenging the federal mandate. 

"This is welcome news for Wyoming's rural healthcare facilities, which are already facing staffing challenges without additional unconstitutional burdens being placed on their employees by the federal government," Governor Gordon said. "Healthcare employees should not be forced to choose between vaccination and termination." 

In its ruling, the court agreed to preliminarily enjoin implementation and enforcement of the rule because arguments made by Wyoming and a coalition of other states have a likelihood of success on the merits. Wyoming and the coalition have argued that CMS does not have authority to issue the mandate and that it would impact the ability of healthcare facilities to effectively care for patients.

"Because it is evident CMS significantly understates the burden that its mandate would impose on the ability of healthcare facilities to provide proper care, and thus, save lives, the public has an interest in maintaining the 'status quo' while the merits of the case are determined," wrote the court. 

Gordon's statment went on to say "Today's ruling is a victory for Wyoming and these states, but the case is not over. The Governor and Attorney General will continue their efforts to challenge the mandate through this lawsuit."   

Wyoming is taking a three-pronged approach to fighting the federal vaccine mandates, filing three separate legal actions to challenge what Gordon refers to as a federal overreach. These include:

•Filing a lawsuit against the Biden Administration for imposing a vaccine mandate on federal contractors and federally contracted employees. Wyoming is currently awaiting a ruling on a request for a temporary injunction in the case. 

•Filing a second lawsuit to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration emergency temporary standard which mandates vaccines on employees of private Wyoming businesses with over 100 employees. This also resulted in a pause on the implementation of the ETS. 

•The legal action involving CMS, which seeks to prevent the Biden Administration from enforcing the mandate on healthcare workers. This is what the courts stayed on Monday and Tuesday.


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