- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a challenge to New Mexico's statewide requirement that staff in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities be vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Justice Neil Gorsuch denied granting an injunction in the suit brought by two women, one a nurse who was terminated for refusing to get the shots, according to court documents.
- The high court already blocked challenges to two other states' vaccine mandates, one in New York and the other in Maine. Nationally, the CMS vaccine mandate is still in place, though injunctions granted by two federal judges to groups of states still stand.
The fight over COVID-19 vaccine mandates is still playing out in the courts with a new variant on the rise and fast-approaching compliance deadline for healthcare employers under CMS' requirement.
Some states have implemented their own individual mandates, though New Mexico's is the latest to be challenged and upheld.
CMS issued a national mandate, requiring hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dialysis facilities, home health agencies and long-term care facilities to ensure staff be fully vaccinated before they can provide any care, treatment or services to patients by Jan. 4.
Those that aren't compliant risk losing Medicare and Medicaid funding, according to the agency.
That rule has been challenged by a number of states, first in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
In that case, U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in the Eastern District of Missouri granted a preliminary injunction halting the federal agency from enforcing its mandate in those states, arguing CMS does not have the authority to enact such regulations.
In another case, Republican lawmakers from Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia challenged the CMS vaccine mandate. They too argued CMS lacked the authority to enact the mandate, and in the lawsuit also expressed how a mandate could exacerbate worsening labor strains, especially in rural areas.
A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in that case, and said the scope would be nationwide.
But HHS soon after filed an appeal, and a federal appeals court halted the nationwide injunction on CMS' vaccine mandate granted in the suit brought by 14 states, limiting the scope of that injunction to those specific states only.
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said healthcare workers in the state would be required to get a booster shot. And Anthony Fauci, who has helped lead the nation's fight against the pandemic, told MSNBC that workers who test positive but are asymptomatic may not have to continue to isolate for 10 days as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A change may come in order to not produce more staffing challenges for hospitals, he said.