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COVID-19 Response Update

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06/16/2020

Federal Agencies

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issued new recommendations that people wear masks in large public gatherings.
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci went a step further and recommended against large gatherings.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the link to its portal that Medicaid providers must use to submit the required cost information to receive their share of the $10 billion Provider Relief Fund distribution to Medicaid providers announced on Tuesday.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued orders to Amazon and EBay to stop selling and distributing unproven or unsafe disinfectants as well as misbranded products that claim to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • The federal government is planning to distribute 96 million cloth face masks to public transportation, train and air travelers.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has awarded about $100 million to various organizations to help them improve their telehealth infrastructure.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) June update to its work plan indicate that OIG will focus on additional oversight of nursing homes and opioid treatment programs.
  • The Federal Reserve predicts that unemployment will fall to 9.3% by the end of 2020. The projection of a slow recovery puts unemployment predictions at 6.5% by the end of 2021. The Federal Reserve also plans to keep interest rates at or near zero through 2021 and, potentially, into 2022.
    • Unemployment claims remain high, at 1.5 million claims last week and 706,000 Americans applied for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
  • The Department of Education issued an interim final rule clarifying which higher education students are eligible for grants from their institutions that was provided by the CARES Act.
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will continue a “general hold” on permanent residency (green card) applications filed from immigrants within the United States.

Vaccine Development

  • Several drug manufacturers are progressing with their advanced phase clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines.

Congress

  • Two groups of Senators are asking the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make it easier for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan recipients to convert their loans to grants.
  • A bipartisan group of 30 senators, submitted a letter to Senate Leadership in support of legislation to permanently expand certain telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, is set to deliver testimony about the outlook of the U.S. Economy at two hearings this week:
  • Representative Glenn Thompson (PA-15) and G.K. Buterfield (NC-01) introduced the Helping Ensure Access to Local Telehealth (HEALTH) Act. The bill would create a new Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services provided by community health centers and rural health clinics.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • With the potential for a second wave of COVID-19, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues recommend the use of facemasks, social distancing and other precautionary measures to reduce transmission rates.
  • The CDC has also issued new guidelines and considerations for larger gatherings.
  • The CDC recommends that states re-implement safety precautions if they see a drastic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
  • The Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program began accepting applications from lenders who want to participate in the program.
  • On Sunday, June 14, the CDC reported over 2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and approximately 115,000 deaths.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) explaining how providers can contact recovered COVID-19 patients about donating blood and plasma.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rescinded its emergency use authorizations (EUA) for both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is hosting a webinar for nursing homes called Clinical Care: Managing COVID-Positive Residents, on Thursday, June 18 at 4:00 p.m. The webinar will discuss the considerations necessary to manage the presence of COVID-19 in nursing homes.
  • The American Red Cross has announced that, for a limited time, they will be testing all donated blood, plasma, and platelets for COVID-19 antibodies.
  • The House Committee on Financial Services will be holding a hearing on Tuesday, June 16 at 12:00 p.m. to discuss how individuals are exploiting the financial system during COVID-19
  • The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) is holding a hearing on Wednesday, June 17 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss the lessons that can be learned from COVID-19 and the use of telehealth.
  • The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is holding a hearing on Wednesday, June 17 at 11:30 a.m. to confront disparities in the healthcare system as it relates to COVID-19.
  • The House Committee on Financial Services will be holding a hearing on Wednesday, June 17 at 12:00 p.m. to discuss monetary policy and the state of the economy
  • The House Small Business Committee will be holding a hearing on Wednesday, June 17 at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the challenges of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness.
  • The House Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis is holding a hearing Thursday, June 18 at 12:00 p.m. to discuss America’s unemployment pandemic.
  • The House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee is holding a hearing on Thursday, June 18 at 12:00 p.m. to discuss tax relief to support workers and families during COVID-19.