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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Health care COVID-19 vaccine mandate blocked in Wyoming by federal judge

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A federal court has paused the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in Wyoming and ten other states. The mandate required almost every employee, volunteer, and contractor at health care facilities that receive federal funding to have received at least the first dose of the vaccine prior to Dec. 6.

The pause only applies to the ten states that recently filed a lawsuit that said the mandate would impact health care facilities' ability to take care of patients.

"This is welcome news for Wyoming's rural health care facilities, which are already facing staffing challenges without additional unconstitutional burdens being placed on their employees by the federal government," said Gov. Mark Gordon in a written statement. "Health care employees should not be forced to choose between vaccination and termination."

In the ruling, the court agreed to temporarily pause the mandate because arguments made by Wyoming and the nine other states may succeed on merits.

They argued that the federal branch of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) doesn't have the authority to issue a mandate and that it will greatly impact the health care facilities' ability to care for patients. The other states include Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New Hampshire.

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