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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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05/11/2021

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.
  • On May 12th, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on mental health and addiction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • President Biden will meet with six governors about how to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says state and local governments will have broad discretion to decide how to use the relief money they receive from the American Rescue Plan.
  • White House pandemic response coordinator Jeff Zients said the U.S. is “turning the corner” against COVID-19.
  • Zients also defended the decision to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while reports of blood clots associated with the vaccine were investigated.
  • The Treasury Department is distributing $21.6 billion in rental assistance aid. The government is allowing the money to go directly to renters instead of to landlords.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • As the country reaches the point where most people who want a vaccine can access one, the government is shifting its attention towards those who are hesitant to get vaccinated. This government is increasing its reliance on doctors, and the trust they enjoy from their patients, to help reach those remaining unvaccinated Americans.
  • As public health restrictions are lifted and businesses begin to re-open, businesses are still searching for more clarity on if, how and when to re-open.
  • CMS announced it is increasing payment rates for COVID-19 monoclonal antibody infusion therapy.
  • Pfizer and BioNTech officially asked the FDA to authorize their COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents age 12-15. The vaccine is currently authorized for people 16 and older. Pfizer issued the approval this afternoon.
  • The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April, which is lower than what many observers expected.
    • Some people think the generous pandemic unemployment benefits are preventing people from looking from jobs. Others say there is more to the report than that one factor.
    • Some economists believe the “lockdown mentality” is holding back the recovery.
    • President Biden said people should not turn down opportunities to return to work but that businesses also have a responsibility to offer attractive jobs and reimbursement.
  • NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said face masks could become seasonal.
  • The CDC is expected to release guidance on how to manage long-term effects of COVID-19.
  • The AMA published new CPT codes for the Novavax vaccine.
  • Novavax is planning to begin shipping doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX global vaccine distribution program in the third quarter of this year.