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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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04/14/2020

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  • The Trump Administration is beginning to give us an idea of at what point the federal government will support “re-opening” the country. President Trump described this decision as the biggest he has ever had to make. Public health experts predict we will soon reach a peak in the number of COVID-19 cases.
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci believes a targeted re-opening process can begin in May. The country must first build up a testing capacity necessary to support lifting the self-quarantine recommendations and local laws that have shuttered non-essential businesses.
    • President Trump has already designated Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., to lead the government’s efforts on coronavirus testing. Admiral Giroir is optimistic that the country will have the necessary testing capacity need for a targeted May reopening. Testing is necessary to identify areas that can be “re-opened” and to monitor the re-opened areas for new infections. 
    • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is beginning a new study intended to quantify the number of undetected coronavirus infections. The study could help us understand what we do not know about the number of infections since not everyone who has COVID-19 received a test.
    • On Tuesday, President Trump plans to announce the members of his economic recovery task force.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance to implement provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) that require health plans to cover COVID-19 testing and related services without charging patients any cost-sharing. The guidance explains in greater detail what tests and services are covered by this provision.
  • The House Ways and Means (W&M) Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy in the House of Representatives, published a blog post explaining that Americans should begin receiving their “recovery rebate” this week. The recovery rebate will provide many American taxpayers with direct payments of $1,200 for individual tax filers or $2,400 for joint tax filers plus $500 per child. The payments phase down above certain 2018 adjusted gross income levels. People who did not file taxes in 2018 can enter information for how they would like to receive their payment on the IRS webpage.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new product for sterilizing N95 masks for reuse.
  • The FDA also approved a new COVID-19 test that uses saliva instead of a nose and throat swab. A saliva test could allow for broader screening than the nose and throat tests.
  • The Department of Defense is entering into $133 million worth of contracts with private companies to purchase N95 masks.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a list of the 70 COVID-19 vaccines in development.