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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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10/20/2020

HBMA COVID-19 Federal Response Update

Congress

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the Senate will hold a vote this week to approve additional small business funding as well as a vote on a Republican-led COVID-19 relief bill that provides about $500 billion worth of relief.
    • Democrats are trying to get the Trump Administration to agree to a $1.8 trillion relief bill but Congressional Republicans do not support a bill that large.
    • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave the Administration until Monday night to reach an agreement if they want to pass a relief bill before Election Day. Reports indicate progress is being made in those talks.

White House and Federal Agencies  

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will increase payments to labs for COVID-19 tests and will continue to pay more for tests that produce results within two days.
  • CVS and Walgreens are partnering with the government to provide COVID-19 vaccines in nursing homes once a vaccine is approved.
  • NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins released a blogpost discussing the science behind mental health responses to disasters with Dr. George Everly Jr., a psychologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore.
  • BARDA and Beckman Coulter are working together to aid in the detection of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a severe complication following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

  • CDC updated the COVID Data Tracker to reflect updated maps, charts, and data on COVID-19 infections across the U.S.
  • CDC released information on monitoring the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy to protect pregnant people and their babies. CDC is working with state, local, and territorial health departments and external partners to learn more about COVID-19 during pregnancy.
  • A new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the CDC shows that persons aged ≥65 years and members of minority racial and ethnic groups are disproportionately represented among COVID-19–associated deaths.
  • The CDC does not support mandatory coronavirus testing for K-12 schools. 

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • Public health experts are warning that increasing cases across the world is causing a new wave of cases.
  • No details have been provided for Johnson & Johnson’s decision to pause its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial after a patient reported an adverse reaction last week.
    • FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn urged people not to be overly alarmed when COVID-19 vaccine trials pause after a reported adverse reaction. He reminded everyone that this is how the process is supposed to work and that these incidents are common across all types of clinical trials.
  • In an open letter clarifying the timeline for developing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Pfizer will not submit data to the FDA to begin the approval process until the third week of November.
  • The NIH is beginning Phase 3 trials for three drugs to test if they are effective at controlling immune system overreactions in COVID-19 patients.
  • A poll from STAT News and The Harris Poll shows that only 58 percent of the population said they will get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available. This is down from 69 percent from a poll conducted in mid-August. 
  • A study from the World Health Organization (WHO) concludes that four drugs have little to no effect as treatments for COVID-19, though some of them are commonly used to treat patients. The drugs are remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon. Critics of the study say it was not peer reviewed.