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Coronavirus update: Supreme Court overturns vaccine mandate for businesses

Some pharmacies are struggling to remain staffed

Vaccine mandate in U.S. concept
Photo (c) adamkaz - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 64,084,673 (63,232,336)

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 846,506 (844,631)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 320,852,830 (317,485,959)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 5,523,313 (5,516,175)‌

Supreme Court blocks mandate for businesses

The U.S. Supreme Court, on a six to three vote, has blocked the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mandate for private businesses. Known as “vaccine-or-testing rules,” the mandate required large employers to vaccinate employees or test unvaccinated employees on a regular basis.

At the same time, the justices did allow the administration to require vaccinations for health care workers if their facilities accept Medicare and Medicaid. That edict covers an estimated 10 million employees.

The court’s majority ruled that the Biden administration probably did not have the unilateral power to impose a mandate that employers ensure their workers were vaccinated or tested every week for COVID-19. Biden celebrated the partial victory, declaring that the mandate for health care workers will save lives.

Some pharmacies closing on weekends

If you need a prescription filled, you might have to wait until Monday. Some pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, are reportedly closing on weekends because of COVID-19 induced staff shortages.

"It's been bad before, but right now there's pharmacies closing because everybody in the pharmacy's got COVID," Gallipot Pharmacy pharmacist Mark Villines told KTEN-TV in Denison, Texas.

CVS said a few of its 10,000 stores are curtailing hours, including closing on either a Saturday or Sunday, to maintain efficient operations due to illness among staff.

Polish scientists find genetic link to COVID-19 deaths

Why do some people have mild or no COVID-19 symptoms while others die? Polish scientists report that their findings point to a genetic link.

Researchers at the Medical University of Bialystok estimate that the gene could be present in about 14% of the Polish population. They say the presence of the gene is the fourth most important factor when it comes to determining the severity of the illness after age, weight, and gender.

Marcin Moniuszko, a professor in charge of the study, suggests a genetic test "may help to better identify people who, in the event of an infection, may be at risk of an acute disease, even before the infection develops." 

Around the nation

  • Texas: Officials in Austin-Travis County have issued new orders for businesses. The orders authorize businesses to impose health and safety requirements, provide notice of the protections that are being provided, and display signs requiring customers to wear masks.

  • Ohio: State Attorney General Dave Yost is defending his lawsuit that resulted in the Supreme Court’s overturning of President Biden’s vaccination mandate for private businesses. Yost said it wasn’t about whether vaccines work or if a mandate is a good idea, but that a mandate must be enacted by Congress, not an agency or the Biden administration.

  • Connecticut: With hospitals throughout the state loaded with COVID-19 patients, the  Connecticut Department of Public Health is asking skilled nursing facilities, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and home health agencies to accept hospital transfer patients with COVID-19. 

  • Michigan: Michigan is dealing with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has stopped short of implementing stringent mitigation measures, as she did early in the pandemic. She said those measures aren’t necessary now because vaccines are readily available.

  • Arkansas: Schools across the state are dealing with a rising number of COVID-19 cases among students. The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) reported Thursday that 97% of the state’s school districts have 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents over a 14-day period. 

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