☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Friday, October 1, 2021 ☙ Where Art Thou, OSHA? 🦠

Today's roundup includes a deeper dive into Joe Biden’s invisible vaccine mandate, Dems finally find some Covid tests they don’t like, the CDC wants “people” ...

It’s Friday at Coffee and Covid — and everywhere else on Planet Earth. Our roundup today includes a deeper dive into Joe Biden’s invisible vaccine mandate, Dems finally find some Covid tests they don’t like, the CDC wants “people” who get “pregnant” to be pricked; Merck announces it’s almost finished trials on a promising anti-viral; and I’ve heard nurses have a new nickname for Fauci’s favorite Covid treatment.


🔥 Remember when Joe Biden recently made his big giant announcement about the federal vaccine mandate, which was just after his giant failure in Afghanistan, and some people were speculating that Joe was just deflecting and didn’t actually have any kind of mandate even started yet?

That was three weeks ago.

Not only has OSHA not delivered any kind of mandate, but apparently the Biden Administration isn’t even sure when to expect it. At a presser yesterday, Jen Psaki was kind of squishy about the whole thing:

REPORTER: About the OSHA rule —

PSAKI: Yeah.

REPORTER: On mandates. You had said it would be a few weeks just now. When it was announced a few weeks ago, it was going to take a few weeks. So, are you signaling a delay of any kind of that rule?

PSAKI: No, we never gave an exact timeline, so — maybe we should have been more specific at the time. Obviously, it takes some time. And we want to make sure when we put these out, they’re clear and they provide guidance necessary to businesses.

REPORTER: So, how many weeks, then, are you expecting it to take?

PSAKI: I can’t give you a timeline. OSHA is working on them. But obviously — hopefully, we’ll know more in the coming weeks.

Huh. No timeline. So there’s that. But also it turns out that there are a lot of nuances, twists, and turns in coming up with ANY kind of a rule that fits the entire country, every industry, every geography, every type of job. This massive thought project raises lots of very basic but also difficult questions like, what is considered sufficient documentation for proof of vaccination? How will booster shots be considered? Does an employee have to be “fully vaccinated” to work? How will the rules handle natural immunity? Will people that have recovered from Covid have to be vaccinated or submit to testing requirements, or not? Will the new rules only apply to vaccines that are approved by the FDA, or include ones that are still in EUA status? What about ones you might be able to get while traveling abroad outside the U.S.? What happens if someone lies about their vaccination status? Are lies and failures the individual’s or employer’s responsibility? If an employee takes a Covid test, but the results are not yet available, can the employee keep working until they get the results? Should employees opt not to vaccinate, who pays for testing, the company or the employee? Will employers have to offer paid time off for the weekly tests?

And so on, and so on, and so on. It’s a lot.

But there’s more! The drafters of the new OSHA Injection Rule also have to take all the expected litigation into account. Because there’s going to be a metric ton of it. This could be bigger than the tobacco litigation.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, two legal scholars explained that the idea to use OSHA for this mandate is kind of, well, a stretch. They explain, “the OSHA mandate far exceeds the authority Congress granted the agency, and if the president can order private companies to dictate such terms of employment, his power to coerce citizens in the name of public health might as well be unlimited.”

OSHA’s enabling act only allows the workplace safety agency to create rules that are “reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment.” But the authors of the WSJ article point out that the Biden Mandate is both unreasonable as well as unnecessarily broad. Since (as announced) it would apply to employees who work at the office as well as those who work at home, it’s too broad. But it’s also too narrow, failing to require injections for contractors, customers, and non-employees who might also be present at a particular work site. Plus there’s currently no exemption for prior infection.

The precise procedure that OSHA is using is called an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). It lets OSHA skip the whole public comment thing or even prior public notice before passing a rule. Of course they’re skipping all that stuff. But here’s the thing: over the last fifty years, OSHA has only used this ETS procedure ten times. It got sued over six of them. Of the six cases, courts struck down five of the six challenged ETS rules. So, the legal odds for OSHA’s giant new emergency temporary vaccine mandate standard ain’t great.

I wonder what the OSHA lawyers are going to tell the courts was the reason they couldn’t take public comment or publish the rule in advance, like every other rule. What was the emergency, exactly? I mean, I KNOW they’re going to say it’s Covid, but so what? Why can’t you take a few extra weeks and do it the right way?

🤡 Democrats in the House blocked and voted down a bill that would have required DHS to give a Covid test to everyone crossing the U.S. border illegally. So.

💉👶 The CDC officially urged pregnant women to get the injections this week. At least, I THINK it did. It said “pregnant people,” which is either some newfangled doublespeak or else they’re talking about something I don’t think I really fully understand yet. You know, it’s this kind of nonsense that is not too good for public confidence in agencies like the CDC. Do you want someone in control of your health who thinks “people” get pregnant?

Anyway. “Pregnancy can be both a special time and also a stressful time — and pregnancy during a pandemic is an added concern for families,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stated in a press release.

And nothing makes your pregnancy more special than worrying about the long-term effects on your baby of a drug that has never been tested in the long term.

💊 On Wednesday, Merck announced that its studies say that its experimental oral Covid-19 antiviral drug, molnupiravir, is effective against all known variants of the coronavirus, including Delta. Piling on the injections’ main weakness, Merck’s head scientist pointed out that since molnupiravir doesn’t just target the spike protein — like some OTHER drugs — it will work against all new variants and mutations.

Merck is currently conducting two Phase III trials of the new antiviral and say they expect to conclude those trials in November. Maybe that explains the rush to get everyone injected in October.

💊 I have it on anecdotal evidence that nurses are starting to call the drug Remdesivir, “run, death is near.” So.

Have a fabulous Friday! I’ll be back here tomorrow morning for your weekend C&C report.

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