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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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06/30/2020

Congress

  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) expressed support for a government mandate that people wear masks in public.
  • The House of Representatives extended its proxy voting system through mid-August.
  • House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Adam Smith (D-WA), proposed a $1 billion pandemic preparedness fund for the Pentagon.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • HHS announced that it secured over 500,000 treatment courses of the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir. HHS will provide the drug at cost to hospitals for about $3,200 per treatment course.
  • In the midst of a new outbreak among younger people, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) stresses that young people are not immune from the virus and should follow CDC guidelines.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will end its temporary suspension of its requirement for all nursing homes to submit staffing data.
  • On Thursday, June 25, CMS proposed a new rule that would make permanent some of its temporary regulatory telehealth changes for home health services.
  • The CDC expanded its list of who is most at risk for severe cases of COVID-19 to include pregnant women.
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Small Business Administration processed over $512 billion in small business loans, but they have not adequately addressed potential fraud or finalized plans to oversee the loans.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Department will provide Congress with data about Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan awards. Congress had been pressuring the Treasury Department to provide more information about the PPP loan distributions.
  • CMS published this week’s schedule of stakeholder engagement calls and webinars.

Reopening, Testing and Vaccines

  • Fourteen states are pausing or reversing reopening measures due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
    • Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar spoke of the urgency for controlling the spike in cases in these states.
  • Many U.S. airlines could begin requiring passengers to fill out a form acknowledging any COVID-19 symptoms they are experiencing before boarding flights. 
  • In an effort to improve efficiency for COVID-19 testing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that the administration is considering “pool testing,” allowing more officials to test more people while using less resources.
  • Dr. Fauci also warned that initial vaccines might not be effective enough to produce herd immunity.
  • Dr. Fauci admitted that contact tracing efforts are “not going well” after states reopen before building infrastructure necessary for the intervention’s development and success.

Congressional Hearings

  • On Tuesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee holds a hearing on safely returning to school and work. The witnesses include NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services Adm. Brett Giroir.
  • On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will testify at a House Financial Services Committee COVID-19 response hearing.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the 2020 tax filing season with IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig as a witness.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the international pandemic response.
  • On Wednesday, the House Small Business Committee will hold hearing on the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
  • On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on mental health legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Senate Committee on Appropriations is holding a hearing on Thursday, July 2 at 10:00 AM to review Operation Warp Speed and discuss the research, manufacturing, and distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
  • On Thursday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will hold a hearing on the Administration’s handling of the national strategic stockpile of medical supplies.