The Biden administration asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to lift a stay on its mandate that most employers ensure their workers are either vaccinated for COVID-19 or get tested weekly — citing “the grievous harms” the virus can have on public health. 

The Justice Department argued in its emergency motion filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that delaying the rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would lead to thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.

The rules reflect “OSHA’s judgment that these measures are necessary to mitigate Covid-19 transmission in the workplace, and the grievous harms the virus inflicts on workers,” read the filing​, which noted that the pandemic has killed more than 750,000 Americans​. ​

The Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans paused the administration’s mandate ​earlier this month, saying it had “grave statutory and constitutional” concerns about the order requiring businesses with 100 or more employees ensure their staffs are vaccinated against COVID-19 or are tested weekly and wear masks. 

People gather for a protest against COVID-19 vaccines and government vaccination mandates on November 3, 2021.EPA/JUSTIN LANE

President Biden speaks about the COVID-19 response and the US vaccination program in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The mandate, which was slated to go into effect on Jan. 3, triggered numerous lawsuits from Republican-led states, as well as religious and business groups. 

Those challenges are being consolidated in the Cincinnati appeals court.

The DOJ filing questioned the Fifth Circuit panel’s reasoning that OSHA lacked statutory authority to enforce the mandate since COVID-19 is not a specific workplace hazard, saying that argument “has no basis in the statutory text.”

Biden’s administration cited “the grievous harms” the virus can have on public health if the mandate continues to be blocked.AP Photo/Susan Walsh

A man receives a COVID-19 test from EMT Christopher Linares at a Blue Med Consultants facility on September 9, 2021.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Congress charged OSHA with addressing grave dangers in the workplace,” the DOJ argued, “without any carve-out for viruses or dangers that also happen to exist outside the workplace.”

The Justice Department added OSHA has monitored the spread of the virus and had hoped for “widespread voluntary compliance” with safety rules to protect workers. 

However, the administration argued that the COVID-19 threat has “changed meaningfully,” and “nonregulatory” options have failed.

At Biden’s request, the DOJ filed an emergency motion with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals saying that any delay would lead to thousands of deaths.KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

“As more employees returned to workplaces, the ‘rapid rise to predominance of the Delta variant’ meant ‘increases in infectiousness and transmission,’” the filing said. “As a result, ‘[u]nvaccinated workers are being hospitalized with COVID-19 every day, and many are dying.”

With Post wires

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