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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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05/07/2021

HBMA COVID-19 Federal Response Update

Congress
On May 11th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on the federal pandemic response. The hearing witnesses include CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, FDA CBER Director Dr. Peter Marks and HHS Chief Science Officer Dr. David Kessler.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • A federal judge ruled that the CDC cannot continue its pandemic eviction moratorium but also placed a temporary hold on the decision from taking effect pending an appeal.
  • Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says the U.S. needs to do more to address the mental health crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
  • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona expects all schools will reopen for in-person learning in time for the new school year. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • President Biden announced that the White House supports waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines as an effort to expand the availability of vaccines to other countries. The White House still needs to negotiate the terms of this waiver with the World Trade Organization (WTO) before it would take effect.
  • The White House’s new vaccination goal is for 70 percent of U.S. adults to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 4th.
  • The federal government will shift away from its population-based methodology for distributing vaccines and towards a new need-based methodology. The federal government will make a state’s unused vaccines available for other states.
    • The CDC says 56 percent of adults have received at least one shot. However, vaccination rates are slowing due to hesitancies held by unvaccinated adults.
    • Persistent delays in vaccination rates could provide an opportunity for new variants that are resistant to vaccines to develop and take hold.
  • HRSA launched a new program to cover vaccination costs for uninsured Americans.
  • HRSA will provide $250 million in new funding for improving vaccinations in rural and medical underserved areas.
  • The CDC could approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12-15 in the next few weeks. Pfizer expects to ask the FDA to approve its vaccine for children between the ages 2-11 in September.
    • Moderna says its vaccine is 96 percent effective in children aged 12-17.
  • The U.S. COVID-19 death toll continues to decline to new lows. Meanwhile, global cases are surging to new highs.
    • The CDC believes we will see a surge in cases as states lift restrictions but that cases will ultimately decline by July due to high vaccination rates.
    • BioNTech’s founders believe COVID-19 will continue to spread for at least another year while until global vaccination rates improve.
    • NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. has a moral obligation to help with the global pandemic response.
  • Moderna is expanding its vaccine manufacturing site to increase its vaccine output.
  • Moderna says its booster shot that targets COVID-19 variants has proven successful. These booster shots could become regular vaccinations if new variants continue to develop.
  • Eli Lilly & Co. is developing a new antibody therapy to treat COVID-19 variants.
  • CVS Health announced that it will accept walk-in vaccine appointments at all of its pharmacy locations.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech will provide vaccines for all of the athletes competing the in Olympics this year.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (a former Fed Chair) clarified comments she made about the possibility of the Fed raising interest rates in response to rising inflation.
  • The number of new weekly unemployment claims continued to fall to a new pandemic low.