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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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07/31/2020

Congress

  • Congress has not made much progress on a new bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill. Serious negotiations are ongoing but it is clear Congress will not pass legislation before certain policies expire on July 31st. Congress is now discussing a stand-alone bill to extend some of those policies, such as increased unemployment insurance benefits, for an additional week while negotiations on the larger package continue.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • President Trump announced a new “Embers Strategy” to direct resources to COVID-19 hotspots.
  • During a visit to the American Red Cross headquarters, President Trump urged people who recovered from COVID-19 to donate their blood plasma.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated its COVID-19 FAQs on Medicare Fee-for-Service Billing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • CMS announced it will begin reimbursing providers for counseling patients to self-isolate during a COVID-19 test.
  • Federal public health experts are beginning to recommend the use of face shields in addition to masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) released a new report showing the dramatic utilization trends of telehealth services for primary care delivery in Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare in the early days of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed why COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting African Americans.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an updated COVID-19 Response At-A-Glance Summary that provides a quick look at facts, figures, and highlights of the agency's response efforts.
  • The FDA updated its list of potentially harmful hand sanitizers.
  • The FDA posted a video that provides COVID-19 information to pet owners.
  • The Federal Reserve announced it is extending many of its emergency lending programs until the end of the year. Many of these programs were only set to run through September 30th.
    • The Fed is also maintaining its interest rate at 0%-0.25%.
    • Fed Chair Jerome Powell discussed how social distancing and other safety measures are essential to the economic recovery.
  • The U.S. economy contracted by about 33 percent on annualized basis in the second quarter of 2020. This decline in GDP was fully expected as Q2 was the height of the economic shutdown in response to the coronavirus.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Reopening, Testing and Treatment

  • HHS announced a new partnership with Texas A&M University to increase manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines that are eventually approved.
  • HHS will partner with the Department of Energy (DOE) to use Summit, the United States’ fastest supercomputer, located at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to research COVID-19 vaccine development.
  • HHS published an updated list of how it has allocated remdesivir treatments for COVID-19 to states.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released new information on the vaccine it is developing with Moderna which shows that two doses of the experimental vaccine induced robust immune responses and rapidly controlled the coronavirus in monkeys exposed to SARS-CoV-2.
  • Pfizer outlined its commercial strategy for the vaccine it is developing.
  • A vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson showed promising early results.