The Biden administration will withdraw its workplace COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate effective Wednesday in response to a Supreme Court ruling blocking the directive earlier this month.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, tasked with enforcing the mandate, announced Tuesday it was withdrawing the rule as an emergency temporary standard and will work on establishing permanent COVID-19 workplace standards.
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"Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule," the agency said in a statement. "OSHA strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace."
The mandate called on businesses with 100 or more employees to require their workers to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear a mask and test regularly. The Biden administration first announced details of the rule last November, but it quickly faced legal setbacks in court.
The Supreme Court blocked the mandate on Jan. 13. In its 6-3 decision, the high court ruled the Labor Department, which oversees OSHA, did not have the authority to impose the mandate. OSHA said in its filing to the Federal Register, which tracks government agency rulemaking, that it would withdraw the ETS in response to the court's decision.
The mandate would have affected upwards of 70 million workers who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Employers that failed to comply would have likely been subject to fines from OSHA of around $14,000 per violation if the mandate went into effect. In response to the court's ruling, several prominent businesses, such as Starbucks, announced they would drop their vaccine mandate for employees.
Challengers to the OSHA vaccine-or-test mandate, which saw lawsuits filed by numerous advocacy groups and at least 26 Republican-led states, scored a major victory in the Supreme Court this month. The case had been remanded to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, where it likely would have followed the Supreme Court's decision to strike it down.
The Labor Department's announcement Tuesday means all outstanding legal proceedings will discontinue.
The United States has an estimated 73.9% of its adult population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recent wave of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. appears to be peaking but still remains high.
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The U.S. reported 1,010,754 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Some states include weekend totals in their Monday reporting. Monday's case count is below the record daily case count set two weeks ago.
Kaelan Deese contributed to this report.