Gorsuch Goes Maskless at Supreme Court, Increasing Colleagues’ COVID Risk Levels

Since last Friday afternoon, Justice Neil Gorsuch has refused to wear a mask during in-person hearings at the Supreme Court, a decision that could impact the health of his fellow justices — especially given that the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus continues to push COVID hospitalization rates into record high levels.

NBC News has reportedGorsuch was seen on Tuesday without a mask. All the other justices in attendance wore masks while Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor were able to attend via remote video communications.

All nine justices are vaccinatedProtect against coronavirus by using a combination of boosters and folic acid.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that everyone over the age of 2 years wear masks in indoor settings, as certain individuals with underlying health conditions may be at greater risk of contracting the virus even if they’re vaccinated.

Sotomayor has diabetes and is therefore considered at greater risk of serious complicationsIf she is diagnosed with COVID, it could be a sign that she has the disease. It’s possible that her decision to work remotely this week came in response to Gorsuch’s refusal to wear a mask, as the two sit next to each other on the Court’s bench.

Breyer did not attend on Tuesday out of “an abundance of caution” after a rapid test result showed he was positive for COVID. His second PCR test proved he was negative. Doctors believe that his first test was a false-positive.

Breyer, who sits on the other side of Sotomayor at the Court — one seat away from Gorsuch — is also considered at high risk of experiencing severe complicationsHe is 83 years old and has contracted the virus.

Gorsuch’s decision not to wear a mask comes as The Court is evaluating whether to block a ruleThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), established a requirement that workers in companies with more than 100 employees be vaccinated and tested for coronavirus each week. Earlier this month, the conservative bloc of justices, which comprise a majority of the Court’s bench, appeared ready to block those new rules during oral arguments.

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and death rates are increasing in the wake of the Omicron variant’s continued spread across the country and the world. More than 140,000 Americans have been hospitalized each dayOn average, there were 1,700 Americans who died each day in the past week.

The Hospitalization Rate in Washington, D.C., where Court meets in person, has risen by 162 per cent over the past week, according to figures from The New York Times show.