GE repeals Covid vaccine and testing rules after Supreme Court blocks Biden’s mandate

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Employees help install the traction engine on a General Electric Evolution Tier 4 Series diesel locomotive at GE Manufacturing Solutions in Fort Worth, Texas.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

General Electric cut off the Covid vaccine and request for testing on Friday after the Supreme Court blocked the mandate of the Biden administration, a company spokesman told CNBC.

GE, which had 174,000 employees at the end of 2020, encouraged its employees to vaccinate, a spokesman said.

The Conservative majority of the Supreme Court, in Judgment 6-3, described the administration’s requirements as a “blunt tool” that “does not differentiate according to industry or risk of exposure to Covid-19.”

In a statement following the court ruling, President Joe Biden called on companies to volunteer to implement the vaccine and test rules.

“The court has ruled that my administration cannot use the powers given to it by Congress to demand this measure,” Biden said. “But that doesn’t stop me from using my voice as president to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect the health and economy of Americans.”

Labor Minister Marty Walsh has promised to use the existing authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to bring companies accountable for protecting workers from Covid.

“We urge all employers to require workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly to combat this deadly virus in the workplace as effectively as possible,” Walsh said in a statement on Thursday. “Employers are responsible for the safety of their workers in the workplace.”

The American Medical Association, one of the largest medical groups in the U.S., said the Supreme Court has blocked “one of the most effective tools in the fight against further transmission and death from this aggressive virus.”

“Transfer in the workplace has been a major factor in the spread of COVID-19,” said AMA President Gerald Harmon. “Now more than ever, workers in all environments across the country need common sense, protection from COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and evidence-based death.”

Harmon called on companies to protect their workers from Covid. Many large companies – including Citigroup, Nike and Columbia Sportswear – have announced they will start laying off unvaccinated workers.

The omicron Covid version leads new infections to unprecedented levels. The U.S. reports an average of more than 786,000 new infections each day, up 29% from last week, according to an analysis of CNBC data from Johns Hopkins University.

According to federal data dating back to the summer of 2020, the number of hospitalizations is at the peak of the pandemic. About 151,000 Americans have been in hospitals with Covid since Friday, according to a seven-day average of health and social services data, up 23% from more than a week. back. This figure includes both patients who were admitted to the hospital because of Covid and those who were positive after admission.

– Nate Rattner of CNBC contributed to this report

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