GE suspends Covid vaccine and testing rules after Supreme Court blocks Biden mandate

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  • General Electric has suspended the implementation of the COVID Vaccine and Testing Rules for its employees.
  • GE had 174,000 employees at the end of 2020.
  • The Supreme Court blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing rules for businesses.
  • Biden said he would urge businesses to voluntarily enforce the rules.

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General Electric on Friday suspended its COVID vaccine and testing requirement after the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s mandate, a company spokesperson told CNBC.

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GE, which had 174,000 employees at the end of 2020, has encouraged its employees to get vaccinated, the spokesperson said.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority, in a 6-3 decision, called the administration’s requirements a “blunt tool” that “makes no distinction based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

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President Joe Biden called on companies to voluntarily enact vaccine and testing rules in a statement following the court’s ruling.

“The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority given to it by Congress to require 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 Americans’ health and the economy.”

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has vowed to use the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s existing authority to hold businesses accountable for protecting workers against COVID-19.

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

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

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

Harmon urged businesses to protect their employees against COVID. Several large companies, including Citigroup, Nike and Columbia Sportswear, have said they will begin laying off workers without vaccinations.

The Omicron COVID edition is taking new infections to unprecedented levels. The US is reporting an average of more than 786,000 new infections every day, up 29% from the previous week, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

Hospitalizations rank as an epidemic, based on federal data going back to the summer of 2020. As of Friday, nearly 151,000 Americans are in hospitals with Covid, a seven-day average of Health and Human Services data shows, up 23% from a week earlier. That figure includes both patients who were hospitalized due to Covid and those who tested positive after admission.

— CNBC’s Nate Ratner /em>

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