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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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06/09/2020

White House and Federal Agencies

  • White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett reiterated President Trump’s interest in passing more economic stimulus legislation.
    • The economy is showing signs of improving which could impact the White House’s priorities for the bill.
    • President Trump still supports a payroll tax cut as one of his top priorities for the bill. However, Congress is less enthusiastic about this proposal because a payroll tax cut does not help unemployed Americans.
  • The White House Coronavirus Taskforce does not see a link between an increase in Coronavirus cases and states reopening, but there are worries of a spike in COVID-19 cases related to ongoing protests in all 50 states.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Stephen Hahn, intends to make permanent some of the temporary regulatory flexibilities and policies the FDA implemented for expediting the development of COVID-19 treatments and tests.
  • The FDA has now reversed their statement regarding how to clean and reuse N95 masks. They now say that sanitized masks should only be used if there is no access to approved N95 masks.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its website with recordings and transcripts of recent open door forums and other virtual stakeholder engagement events. 

Economic Recovery

  • The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) says the country officially entered a recession. However, the positive May jobs report and rising stock markets show the recession could be short-lived.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the federal deficit in May was $424 billion, which is substantially lower than April's $738 billion. The CBO also said the deficit for the first eight months of FY 2020 was about $1.9 trillion which is $1.2 trillion greater than the same period the previous year. The increased budget deficit is attributable to federal economic and healthcare relief legislation in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Vaccines and Treatments

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says that people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic are very unlikely to transmit the virus.
  • The WHO is also recommending that people wear face masks in public to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • AstraZeneca is using a cancer-treating drug, Calquence, as a treatment for 19 severe COVID-19 patients. The drug is not intended to cure COVID-19 or increase recovery time. It is intended to treat severe COVID-19 symptoms such as a “cytokine storm.” Early results have been promising as 12 of the 19 patients were discharged.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that a Phase 3 trial of for the COVID-19 vaccine will start in July. Phase 3 trials are the final phase a potential vaccine must face before approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • The FDA has administered an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the use of a COVID-19 test developed by Genetron Health
  • A new study from Oxford University concluded that malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is ineffective for treating COVID-19.

Congressional Hearings