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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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08/07/2020

Congress

  • Congress and the White House are still negotiating a new COVID-19 relief bill. According to reports, little progress has been made towards a compromise. There is still optimism among House and Senate leadership that a deal can be reached. However, President Trump is preparing to take executive action if a deal is not reached soon. 

White House and Federal Agencies

  • The 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) proposed rule would permanently adopt some of the temporary Medicare telehealth coverage policies that have been enacted during the COVID-19 PHE.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci does not think another nationwide shutdown is necessary if COVID-19 cases increase.
  • The National Institutes of Health launched a new Artificial Intelligence initiative to analyze lung scans to detect COVID-19.
  • President Trump extended the federal deployment of the National Guard through the end of 2020. He is also asking states to contribute to the cost of deploying the National Guard.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) updated its FAQs for COVID-19.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people aged 15-24 with COVID-19 increased over the last five months.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Reopening, Vaccine and Testing

  • Dr. Fauci estimates that drug manufacturers will produce at least 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.
  • A vaccine being developed by Novavax has shown promising results in early trials with 100 patients.
  • Patients admitted with COVID-19 at select hospitals may now volunteer to enroll in a NIH clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of a potential new treatment for the disease
  • The vaccine the NIH is developing with Moderna showed promising results in a study with mice.
  • The NIH began a new clinical trial to test remdesivir in combination with Multiple Sclerosis treatment Interferon Beta-1a to treat COVID-19.
  • Johnson and Johnson agreed to provide 100 million doses of its vaccine for $1 billion.
  • The CDC developed a new test to diagnose COVID-19 and the flu. This test will help differentiate if a patient’s symptoms are due to COVID-19 or the flu.
  • FDA posted frequently asked questions for patients and consumers about antibody (serology) testing during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • HHS announced that more than 59 million COVID-19 tests have now been completed nationally – averaging over 810,000 per day over the past seven days. Over the past month, the percentage of lab tests that were completed within three days was 45; over the last seven days, it was over 56.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a PSA campaign seeking to dramatically increase donations of convalescent plasma by the end of August.
  • The NIH is investing $248.7 million in new technologies to address challenges associated with COVID-19 testing.