COVID-19 Federal Response Update – August 24, 2020

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Congress

  • The House of Representatives returned to the Capitol on Saturday to vote on a bill to provide assistance to the US Postal Service (USPS). House Members from both parties wanted COVID-19 relief measures included in that package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did not include any COVID-19 relief measures in the bill which ultimately passed the House.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • President Trump held a press conference on Sunday to announce that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma therapy that uses blood from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat infected patients.
    • This treatment has been at the center of a political controversy as President Trump has accused the FDA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) of delaying approval. However, officials from those agencies as well as some outside health experts believe that more data is needed before issuing a EUA for the plasma treatment.
  • The FDA posted frequently asked questions for consumers about UV lights and lamps. Consumers may be interested in purchasing ultraviolet-C (UVC) lamps to disinfect in the home or similar spaces. The FDA is providing answers to consumers’ questions about the use of these lamps for disinfection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is calling attention to how quickly COVID-19 can spread through a nursing home facility.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) anticipates unemployment will persist through 2021 with 37.2 million fewer people with jobs than it predicted a year ago.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci had a minor surgery to remove a polyp from his vocal cord. His recovery will reduce his ability to give interviews for the next two weeks.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

  • According to White House COVID-19 Task Force advisor Dr. Deborah Birx, the CDC is working on a new COVID-19 data tracking system.
  • CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield reiterated his concern about how the flu can exacerbate the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The CDC released updated guidance for re-opening and operating schools.
  • CDC updated their recent case watch and demographic trends that shows that racial/ethnic minority groups are overly affected by COVID-19. Hispanic and non-White people make up 40% of the US population, but about 60% of COVID-19 cases.
  • CDC created this communication toolkit for airlines to help them reach their travelers and employees with COVID-19 prevention messaging.

Reopening, Testing and Vaccine

  • Johnson and Johnson will soon begin a 60,000-person phase 3 clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine.
  • According to a new study, remdesivir may not be as effective at treating COVID-19 as originally thought. However, the FDA may approve expanded use for the treatment.
  • A new study confirms that a vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech produces fewer side effects than a different vaccine candidate under development by those companies.
  • A new survey of physicians shows that up to eight percent of physician practices have closed due to COVID-19.
  • A new study indicates children spread COVID-19 at higher rates than initially thought.
  • Hong Kong is reporting the first case of reinfection for a recovered COVID-19 patient.

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