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Supreme Court will hold special session on vax mandates for health workers, larger businesses

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The high court’s announcement that it will hear arguments in the cases Jan. 7 comes amid rising coronavirus cases and is an extraordinarily fast timeline.

The Supreme Court says it will hold a special session in just over two weeks to hear arguments on the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirement for large employers and a separate vaccine requirement for health care workers.

The high court announced late Wednesday that it would hear arguments in the cases on Jan. 7. The court had not been scheduled to hear cases again until Jan. 10.

The announcement comes amid rising coronavirus cases.

An appellate panel ruled on Friday that the vaccine or testing regime for workers at larger companies could take effect. The plan requires workers at larger companies to be vaccinated or wear face masks and get tested weekly. The requirement could affect some 84 million U.S workers.

The court will have to decide whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the authority to impose such a requirement. The requirement had been scheduled to take effect Jan. 4.

The court also will hear arguments over a rule published Nov. 5 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid that applies to a wide range of health care providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding. It requires their workers to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 6 and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

It was projected to affect more than 17 million workers in about 76,000 health care facilities as well as home health care providers. Decisions by lower courts have the mandate blocked in about half of states.

A Tampa federal judge Wednesday backed Florida’s attempt to block a similar vaccination requirement for federal contractors.

Previously, a federal judge in Georgia temporarily blocked this mandate, and a federal judge in Missouri granted a similar injunction for 10 states that had collectively sued. It's likely all of these cases will be consolidated and heard by a single federal appellate court.

Click here to read more of this article from the Associated Press.