- The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) needs to be renamed and completely overhauled.
- The CDC added fatigue, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea) to its list of COVID-19 symptoms.
- The CDC added pregnant women to its list of groups who may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 based on recent data. People with asthma are possibly at increased risk.
- Several Federal agencies issued joint guidance about how self-funded health plans are required to comply with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and also clarifies that providers cannot balance bill patients for COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
- The Treasury Department may consider a second tax filing extension that would push the deadline from July 15 to September 15.
Congress is focusing on its non-COVID-19 agenda. Negotiations on new bipartisan COVID-19 relief legislation have not progressed to any formal stage.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, expressed his belief that the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) needs to be completely overhauled.
- Chairman Johnson wants to change the name of the SNS and shift its mission to clarify its role as a coordinating body instead of a supply warehouse.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that criticizes some of HHS’s early response to the coronavirus.
White House and Federal Agencies
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its list of COVID-19 symptoms and has added fatigue, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. It also combines fever and chills as one symptom.
The CDC also updated its information regarding which groups of people may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 based on recent data. People with asthma are still included in the list of people with underlying medical conditions who are possibly at increased risk. Pregnant women have been added to this list.
Several Federal agencies issued joint guidance on certain provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
- The guidance adds clarification about how self-funded health plans are required to comply with the law.
- It also clarifies that providers cannot balance bill patients for COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
President Trump expressed his support for a new round of stimulus checks to individual and joint taxpayers.
Vice President Mike Pence warned young people about the risks of COVID-19.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Treasury Department may consider a second tax filing extension that would push the deadline to file taxes back from July 15 to September 15.
- Secretary Mnuchin also made comments throughout the week indicating that the next COVID-19 relief legislation will focus on the economic recovery. He expects the U.S. economy will exit a recession by the end of the year.
CDC Director, Dr. Robert Redfield, is warning that the number of COVID-19 cases could be ten times higher than the reported number of cases.
HHS will partner with Morehouse School of Medicine to research racial and ethnic disparities for COVID-19.
The Federal Government will scale back some funding for COVID-19 testing. The decision has received criticism from some legislators because many of the testing sites that will lose funding are located in areas that are seeing increased cases. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated federal aid would come in a different form.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement clarifying that COVID-19 does not spread through food.
FDA Commissioner Steven Hahn is highlighting how the FDA has continued to approve medical products at the same pace during COVID-19.
Vaccine, Treatment and Reopening
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, continues to express optimism that a vaccine will be available by the end of the year.
More data has been released about dexamethasone’s effectiveness as a COVID-19 treatment. Dexamethasone is a commonly used steroid that has shown promise as a treatment for severe COVID-19 symptoms in preliminary research. The new data reaffirms optimism that it can be an effective treatment for severe cases; however, more research is need.
An analysis released by Moody’s Investor Service shows that patient volumes are recovering in medical practices, but still lag behind pre-pandemic levels.