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Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated the Biden administration's vaccine mandate for businesses with at least 100 workers.

Why it matters: The administration paused enforcement of the mandate, which requires companies to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or tested weekly by Jan. 4, 2022, after a separate federal circuit court last month deemed it "staggeringly overbroad."

  • Republican attorneys general, private companies and some industry groups sued to challenge the requirement and the Justice Department asked that the cases be consolidated.

What they're saying: A three-judge panel on 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Friday that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which issued the mandate, "demonstrated the pervasive danger that COVID-19 poses to workers—unvaccinated workers in particular—in their workplaces."

  • The divided court also dismissed the argument that OSHA exceeded its authority, writing that "OSHA has regulated workplace health and safety, including diseases, for decades."
  • The mandate is "an important step in curtailing the transmission of a deadly virus that has killed over 800,000 people in the United States, brought our healthcare system to its knees, forced businesses to shut down for months on end, and cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs."
  • "The harm to the Government and the public interest outweighs any irreparable injury to the individual Petitioners who may be subject to a vaccination policy," wrote Judge Jane Stranch, a Barack Obama appointee.
  • Judge Julia Gibbons, appointed by George W. Bush, joined the opinion and issued a separate concurrence. Judge Joan Larsen, appointed by Donald Trump, dissented.

The big picture: A three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 13 held that the administration has not proved "COVID-19 poses the kind of emergency that allows OSHA to take the extreme measure."

  • The court initially paused the rule's implementation over the weekend. Plaintiffs who brought the case include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.
  • Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, a Trump appointee, authored the majority opinion and was joined by Judge Edith Jones, a Ronald Reagan appointee. Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, another Trump appointee, concurred.

The mandate covers roughly 80 million workers in the U.S.

  • Employers that do not comply will face federal fines starting at nearly $14,000 per violation.

What's next: The issue is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court.

Editor's note: This story is developing and has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Updated 29 mins ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.