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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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08/20/2021

Congress

  • Over 100 Members of Congress sent a letter to the FDA asking for more information about when the FDA expects to approve the COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 12.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • The Biden Administration announced it will require nursing home staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of participation in the Medicare program.
  • President Biden directed the Department of Education to explore how it can use similar policy levers to disincentive governors from prohibiting schools from instituting mask mandates.
  • The TSA is extending its mask mandate for airline travel through January 18th.

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • The CDC announced that it will begin providing a third “booster” dose of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. The booster roll out will begin in September. The recommendation is for people to receive a booster dose eight months after their first dose. 
    • The CDC is basing its recommendation on new information that shows a gradual decrease in vaccine efficacy. This was expected but new data shows the decline is occurring at a faster rate than originally expected. This research combined with new information that shows the Delta variant leads to higher rates of transmission and breakthrough infections prompted this decision.
    • Despite this new information, CDC studies continue to show that the vaccines remain effective against hospitalization and death.
    • NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci clarified that the timing of the booster shots is to help “stay ahead of the virus” as we approach colder months.
    • Some scientists and public health officials disagree with the booster recommendation.
    • The booster recommendation does not currently apply to recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That vaccine relies on different technology than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Research on that vaccine’s long-term effectiveness is ongoing but almost complete. The Administration is expected to issue a similar booster recommendation for the J&J vaccine soon.
  • The Delta variant accounts for almost all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
  • COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to increase.
  • COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates are higher in states with the lowest vaccination rates. Similarly, hospitalization rates are increasing for people under 50.
  • The number of new weekly unemployment claims declined by 29,000 to 348,000 – a new low since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said that the Delta variant’s impact on the U.S. economy is still largely unknown. 
    • Consumer retail spending declined in July, likely due to the Delta variant. However, U.S. factory production increased.

 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Update