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Idaho to join lawsuit against US mandate for vaccines, tests

photo of idaho statehouse

The Idaho State Capitol Building. File photo

Idaho will join a multistate lawsuit against the Biden administration over an emergency rule mandating that employers with more than 100 workers require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing, Republican Gov. Brad Little said Thursday, Nov. 4.

Little said he’s working with Republican Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and will join the expected lawsuit Friday, Nov. 5.

The Biden administration announced in August that the rule would be forthcoming, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration didn’t issue the emergency rule until Thursday. It applies to about 84 million workers, with the requirements starting Jan. 4.

Formalizing the rule, which also requires unvaccinated workers to wear a mask while in the workplace, opens it up potential lawsuits.

Little, Wasden, Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke and Republican Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder in September wrote Biden a letter warning of potential legal action by the state “to uphold its sovereignty” should the rule be issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Not surprisingly, President Biden is plowing forward with his OSHA rule to punish America’s businesses — yet another unprecedented federal overreach into the private sector,” Little said in a statement.

photo of brad little

Gov. Brad Little. Submitted photo

Biden has framed the issue as a simple choice between getting more people vaccinated or prolonging the pandemic.

Idaho is already part of a different multistate lawsuit against Biden’s requirement that all employees of federal contractors be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Dec. 8.

The Idaho State Board of Education is also part of that lawsuit, but earlier this week gave colleges and universities the OK to begin actions necessary to comply with Biden’s order to avoid losing nearly $90 million in research contracts and agreements.

Idaho lawmakers plan to convene Nov. 15 at the Statehouse to pass laws also aimed at thwarting Biden’s COVID-19 requirements.

Meanwhile, Idaho remains under “crisis standards of care,” a designation giving hospitals dealing with an influx of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients the ability to ration health care as needed.

The state has been in crisis standards since mid-September. About 3,600 Idaho residents have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

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