Key points in this update:
- HHS announced a new Provider Relief Fund distribution of $15 billion dollars to Medicaid providers who had not previously received funding.
- PPP eases requirements so more loans can become grants.
- The White House Supply Chain Task Force officials plan on stockpiling 400 million syringes and needles by December, in anticipation of an approved vaccine.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new Provider Relief Fund distribution of $15 billion dollars to Medicaid providers who did not receive funding from the Provider Relief Fund’s General Allocation. HHS is also distributing $10 billion to safety net hospitals.
During his testimony at a Senate Small Business Committee Hearing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Treasury Department will take more actions to ease the requirements of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include allowing some recipients to convert their PPP loans to grants, even if they spend less than 60 percent of their loan on employee salaries and benefits.
The World Health Organization (WHO) walked back a statement made Monday about COVID-19 suggesting that asymptomatic transmission is rare. The WHO refined its statement to say that much is still unknown and that they are unsure how frequently asymptomatic transmission occurs.
As states begin to reopen, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, feels that officials’ main concerns should be safety. He believes that the U.S. has improved responses to COVID-19 but should be prepared for flares in some areas.
- 21 states are facing an increase in COVID-19 outbreaks and hotspots. Some states argue the increase can be attributed to an increase of testing.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a letter in response to questions raised by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) regarding the economic effects of COVID-19. The letter includes CBO estimates about the gross domestic product (GDP) and projects how recent legislation will affect the GDP.
Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), released a White Paper, outlining his vision for how the U.S. should prepare for future pandemics. Topics include accelerating the research and development of vaccines, increasing disease surveillance, and more.
The White House Supply Chain Task Force announced that it expects to exceed its goal to procure 160 million N95 respirator masks.
- The Task Force’s estimated needs for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be found here. It includes gowns, gloves, face shields, surgical masks, etc.
- In anticipation of a successful vaccine, administration officials plan on stockpiling 400 million syringes and needles by December.
HHS released an outline of its initiatives to address health disparities in relation to COVID-19. The initiatives aim to understand the impact of COVID-19 on minorities, introduce affordable and accessible testing and treatment, increase accessibility to telehealth, and ensure outreach to minority communities.