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How the Supreme Court's block of Biden's vaccine mandate affects San Diegans

Supreme Court
Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 21:15:12-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — "What the court said is 'Look, the people who are challenging this mandate are very likely to win. So, in the meantime you can't enforce it'," says legal analyst Dan Eaton.

Eaton says that the Supreme Court block of President Biden's vaccine mandate protects roughly 84 million Americans who work at employers with more than 100 employees from being required to get vaccinated or subject to weekly testing and wear a mask.

"The Supreme Court said, 'OSHA, you went too far in issuing a vaccine mandate that really deals with a general hazard to public health'," explains Eaton.

However this block does not stop private or public employers, or local and state governments from enforcing their own mandates.

RELATED: Supreme Court blocks vaccine-or-test mandate for US businesses

Easton raises the big question, "Is the State of California going to try to issue a vaccine mandate that the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been found not to have? Because understand, that the state can regulate more broadly than the federal government."

So far, the state has not issued a vaccine mandate for workers. Thursday, The Supreme Court did authorize OSHA to allow healthcare facilities on federal funds to require their employees to be vaccinated.

In California, it changes nothing for healthcare workers, as the state has already required vaccinations and boosters.

However, Eaton said its possible the State of California would create their own mandate, or that OSHA comes back to the drawing board with a different version of this action. Another possibility is that the lower courts take the evidence and see if OSHA does in fact have the power to issue this mandate.

"When we are taking about COVID-19 and coronavirus we are talking about a pandemic in which, since it's inception has been moving faster than the speed of law," explains Eaton. "These two rulings that the Supreme Court has issued today are a confirmation of that."

"It's just there's too many layers of uncertainty and we are in this situation now where we have been in this pandemic for so long, that we are re-visiting old arguments, old policy ideas, old regulations," explains VP of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, Stefanie Benvenuto. "So yea super confused, we are looking for some framework that is easy to follow."

Benvenuto was surprised the Supreme Court chose to block Biden's workplace rule but move forward with the healthcare worker vaccine mandate.

She believes that it may be possible OSHA comes up with a different plan.

"What we are hearing largely from the business community, what we have been hearing for the past two years is 'just tell us what you expect government and let us do it', because the maybe you should encourage vaccines, maybe you should, its really tough," said Benvenuto. "I think what they are really hoping for is that somebody is just going to draw the line so we can move forward without some of this squishiness."

With the workplace mandate blocked, where does this leaves employers?

Benvenuto says that Cal-OSHA already has regulatory framework that businesses must follow. That framework will be updated on Friday with new rules. However, she says the future of a stable work environment is uncertain.