What We’re Reading: Omicron Variant Detected in US; Supreme Court Signals Support for Abortion Restrictions; Federal Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate

The first case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant has been detected in the United States; Supreme Court justices signal support for upholding Mississippi’s abortion law; a federal judge blocks the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers.

First Case of Omicron Variant Found in United States

The United States recorded its first confirmed case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, according to the Associated Press. The carrier was a vaccinated traveler who returned to California following a trip to South Africa. The person experienced mild symptoms prior to testing positive and had not been vaccinated long enough to receive a booster dose of a COIVD-19 vaccine. Currently, scientists are still working establish whether the new mutant version of the virus that causes COVID-19 is more dangerous than previous ones. Anthony Fauci, MD, stated in a White House announcement that officials knew that it was only a matter of time before the first case of the Omicron variant would be found in the United States.

Supreme Court Signals Support for Abortion Limitations

According to a report from Reuters, conservative judges on the Supreme Court indicated support for upholding a restrictive Mississippi abortion law that directly challenges the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling. The court heard almost 2 hours of oral arguments in the Mississippi’s appeal to revive its ban on abortions starting at 15 weeks of pregnancy, which was blocked by lower courts. The Supreme Court currently has a 6 to 3 conservative majority, and the liberal justices sternly warned against ditching long-standing legal precedents like Roe v Wade. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, challenged the law and has support from the Biden administration. A ruling is expected by the end of June 2022.

Federal Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandates for Health Care Workers

As reported by The New York Times, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt the start of President Joe Biden’s national vaccine mandate for health care workers, which was set to begin December 6. The injunction, drafted by Judge Terry A. Doughty, expanded a separate order issued by a federal court in Missouri, which had applied to only 10 states that joined in a lawsuit against the president’s decision to require health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes to be fully vaccinated by January 4. The judge wrote that a mandate that applied to 10.3 million health care workers should be issued by Congress rather than a government agency.