Overnight Health Care — Presented by Rare Access Action Project — White House unshaken by mandate ruling

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Rare Access Action Project — White House unshaken by mandate ruling
© Associated Press - Lynne Sladky

Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Big Bird got his COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend to help convince children not to be afraid of the shot. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Texas) called it “government propaganda.”

Today we're looking at the Biden administration's defense of its vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses after a federal appeals court froze the rule, and what the White House is now saying.

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com) and Justine Coleman (jcoleman@thehill.com). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4, @NateWeixel and @JustineColeman8.

Let’s get started.

Businesses told to move forward despite freeze 

The White House on Monday urged businesses to move forward with implementing rules for coronavirus vaccines after a federal court stayed President BidenJoe BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country MORE’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private companies.

“We think people should not wait,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-PierreKarine Jean-PierreThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden comes out swinging in 2022 Biden says he plans to run for reelection in 2024 'if I'm in good health' The Memo: Failure on big bill would spark cascade of trouble for Biden MORE told reporters on Monday. “We say, do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe. It is important and critical to do and waiting to get more people vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and sickness.”

“We’re trying to get past this pandemic, and we know the way to do that is to get people vaccinated,” Jean-Pierre added.

The Biden administration maintains that it is on firm legal footing after a federal appeals court in New Orleans on Saturday temporarily blocked the rule, which was developed by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“The administration clearly has the authority to protect workers, and actions announced by the president are designed to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19,” Jean-Pierre said Monday, noting that the Justice Department would be defending the rule in court.

Background: The three-judge panel on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited "grave statutory and constitutional issues" with Biden's rule in issuing the stay on Saturday. All three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents. 

Read more here.


The End of Innovation:

Treatments and cures for rare disease patients are under threat from Congress. Find out more at RareAccessActionProject.org.


Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House GOP lawmakers seek answers from FDA on prenatal testing accuracy following New York Times report On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam MORE (R-Texas) called on Republicans in Congress to attempt to block government funding legislation next month in response to the Biden administration’s vaccinate-or-test requirements that he labeled “unconstitutional.”

The Texas lawmaker requested his fellow Republicans “stand up” and prevent the government from passing a continuing resolution to extend funding beyond Dec. 3 as long as the federal vaccine mandates are in effect.

“I’m calling on my colleagues to stand strong and not fund the government that’s going to go do propaganda on our kids and put these unconstitutional mandates in place,” he told “The Faulkner Focus” on Fox News. 

Roy’s comments indicate the federal mandate could pose additional obstacles for the administration beyond the several lawsuit challenges, as the deadline to prevent a government shutdown approaches in about a month. 

Flashback: Biden previously narrowly avoided a shutdown in September after the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution funding the government until the new Dec. 3 deadline.

Read more here


Tracking COVID-19 misinformation 

Almost 8 in 10 U.S. adults believe or are unsure of at least one false statement about COVID-19, according to polling data published Monday.

The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that 78 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they believe or were unsure of at least one of eight false COVID-19 statements that the organization tested.

Some of the false statements:

  • 38 percent believe the government is exaggerating the number of COVID-19 deaths
  • 17 percent believe pregnant women should not get the vaccine
  • 18 percent believe deaths caused by the vaccine are being hidden by the government

Big picture: The survey results highlight the problem of misinformation in the battle against COVID-19, which has been a leading concern in efforts to get more people vaccinated. KFF states in an analysis of the data that it shows "belief in pandemic-related misinformation is widespread."

Among unvaccinated people, 64 percent believed or were unsure about four or more of the false statements. That was significantly lower among vaccinated people, at 19 percent.

Among Republicans, 46 percent believed or were unsure about four or more false statements, compared to 14 percent of Democrats.

Read more here



Pa. governor allows school districts to modify, end mask mandate

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom WolfTom WolfEd Gainey sworn in as Pittsburgh's first Black mayor The COVID-19 endgame may be here Pennsylvania GOP Senate votes to bar school children from COVID-19 requirement MORE (D) intends to allow school districts to modify or end mask mandates for K-12 students starting on Jan. 17. 

Wolf’s administration imposed a statewide mask mandate in September, citing the surge of infections and hospitalizations from the highly contagious delta variant of the novel virus, according to The Associated Press.

“Now, we are in a different place than we were in September, and it is time to prepare for a transition back to a more normal setting,” Wolf said in a statement on Monday. 

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is now a part of our daily lives, but with the knowledge we’ve gained over the past 20 months and critical tools like the vaccine at our disposal, we must take the next step forward in our recovery,” he added.

The existing order from Health Secretary Alison Beam requires students, school personnel and visitors at K-12 schools and child care facilities to wear masks while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

The move to end the statewide mandate comes after federal officials approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5.

Read more here.

US reopens doors to international travelers

The U.S. opened its doors to international travelers on Monday after more than 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions, and some airports across the world celebrated the milestone with pomp and circumstance.

Starting Monday, fully vaccinated international travelers will be permitted to enter the U.S. as long as they show proof of inoculation and present a negative COVID-19 test that was taken within three days of travel. The new policy, which was first announced last month, applies to both land borders and air travel.

Celebrations: Travelers celebrated the new travel guidelines throughout the world on Monday.

At Heathrow Airport in London, employees welcomed passengers into the facility by waving American flags, according to The New York Times. Passengers at the airport who were boarding Virgin Atlantic flights were also greeted by performers dressed in red, white and blue garb.

Also at Heathrow, rival airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic commemorated the milestone day by synchronizing the departure times of both their flights to New York. The two aircraft took off at the same time on parallel runways.

At airports across Europe, excited groups of passengers lined up to board planes headed for the U.S., Agence France-Presse reported.

In Mexico and Canada, masked pedestrians, cars and motor homes were reportedly crowding along the countries’ borders with the U.S. as travelers prepared to enter the U.S.

Read more here.


The End of Innovation:

Treatments and cures for rare disease patients are under threat from Congress. Find out more at RareAccessActionProject.org.




  • Unvaccinated Texans make up vast majority of COVID-19 cases and deaths this year, new state data shows (The Texas Tribune)
  • Tennessee business groups want COVID overhaul changes in ’22 (The Associated Press)
  • Delaware has seen few COVID-19 cases in schools, but few are getting tested (Delaware Online)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Tuesday.