The United States Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden‘s administration’s rule requiring large businesses to ensure its employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine or wear masks and undergo weekly testing, but approved a separate mandate for an estimated 20 million health care workers to be vaccinated, NBC News reports.
The workplace rule was initially announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in October in an effort to boost the U.S. economy and combat the spread of COVID-19.
The proposed ruling called for businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure all workers met vaccination requirements or wore masks and showed proof of negative coronavirus test results at least once per week and would have covered 80 million American workers.
OSHA estimated the vaccine and testing mandate would have saved more than 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over a six-month span after it would have gone into effect.
“The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers,” President Biden said when he announced the requirement in October via NBC News.
The rule was immediately challenged in November by conservative states and businesses, which argued the U.S. government lacked the power to issue a sweeping mandate of its kind.
The requirement was initially blocked by lower courts, but was later reinstated by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which called the OSHA rule “an important step in curtailing the transmission of a deadly virus that has killed over 800,000 people in the United States, brought our health care system to its knees, and cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs.”