Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for US businesses
US Supreme Court shown Friday January 7, 2022 in Washington (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
The Supreme Court has blocked the Biden Administration’s push to require employees at large businesses to get the COVID-19 vaccine or be required to test regularly for the virus and wear a mask at work. This case reached the Supreme Court after the OSHA rule was initially blocked and then allowed by two different appellate courts. The rule also sparked major opposition from large employers concerned about it being too expensive and potentially driving workers to quit. The Court concluded that the mandate was an overstep of the Administration’s authority as, ““OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate,” and, “[Congress] has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here,” according to an unsigned opinion by the conservative justices. The liberal justices argued in dissent that it was the Supreme Court that was overreaching by, “without legal basis,” ignoring the judgement of the health experts tasked with responding to workplace health crises. The White House still considers this a success as it drove millions to take the vaccine. Despite the court’s stance on this, it did allow a vaccine mandate for most of America’s healthcare workers to proceed in a 5-4 vote. A separate vaccine mandate for federal contractors still has yet to be heard by the court.
Omicron wave might be dropping off soon
Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News
Scientists see a number of signs that the omicron wave is approaching its peak in the United States at which point case numbers could decline rapidly. One of the larger signs is that the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium predicts that cases will peak within the week. This is backed by other model projects, such as that of the University of Washington, that predict that cases will crest by January 19th at 1.2 million. These figures raise hopes that the US, and other such countries, can fall significantly after reaching their apex as happened in South Africa. Experts still warn that much is uncertain about the future of the virus and the ongoing pandemic. Despite the uncertainty Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, says omicron could be a turning point as immunity from the infections combined with vaccination and new drugs could lead to us being more able to coexist with the virus.
U.S. Inflation Hits 39-Year High of 7%, Sets Stage for Fed Hike
Consumer prices in the US rose higher than they have in nearly forty years as commonly bought items became 7% more expensive on average. This weakens the purchasing power of American families and could lead to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in March. This shows that the high inflation is more persistent and widespread than predicted by the central bank as Increased prices for shelter and vehicles have been the main contributors to the higher CPI with food also playing a part. Energy prices, a major driver of inflation for most of 2021, fell last month. As this occurs, the unemployment rate has now fallen below 4%. This unprecedented situation has led Fed policy bankers to consider shrinking the Federal Bank’s balance sheet to follow up on the planned rate hike. Businesses are trying to raise wages to attract and retain more employees, but increased prices are eroding the higher wages. Inflation is also serving as a major obstacle for President Biden and Democrats. It has already served to kill their planned $2 trillion spending package as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a key holdout, objected to the legislation because of the rising prices.