Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, March 2021 # 16

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Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines from Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs practice.

In Washington:

  • The White House may split a $3 trillion economic recovery proposal into two bills, The New York Times reported Monday. The proposal comes as the economy struggles through the coronavirus pandemic-caused recession. An infrastructure bill would aim to boost manufacturing, transportation, and broadband access, and to cut carbon emissions. Another inequality-focused bill would feature spending on paid leave and universal pre-K and community college. The president would push the infrastructure package first. Candidate Biden suggested he might pay for his agenda by raising taxes on corporate and high-income individual income as well as dividends and capital gains.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday urged states to maintain and individuals to adhere to anti-coronavirus restrictions. The U.S. has plateaued at a high level of about 50,000 daily new cases. Once again states are relaxing restrictions. “I am worried that if we don't take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination," she said. 
  • Roughly one in six U.S. adults has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to new data released Saturday by the CDC. The agency’s vaccine tracker as of Saturday afternoon showed that 16.7 percent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated. More than 40 percent of adults aged 65 years and older are also fully vaccinated. More than 121 million doses in total have been administered. Nearly 43 million adults are fully inoculated.
  • The IRS has started distributing its second batch of coronavirus economic stimulus payments.  For those with direct deposit, the $1,400 per-person payments will be paid on Wednesday. Payments will also be sent by mail as paper checks or debit cards.
  • A coalition of airline and travel groups are calling on the Biden administration to reopen the U.S. to international travelers.  The group wants the administration to come up with a “defined roadmap” by May 1, in so that travel can resume by this summer.  The travel and tourism industries have struggled through the pandemic, losing over$1 trillion in the economy and 5.6 million travel-supported jobs in 2020.

In the News:

  • AstraZeneca announced on Monday that its vaccine was 79 percent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in phase three U.S. testing and 100 percent effective in preventing serious cases and hospitalizations. The company said it will seek emergency use authorization in the U.S. for the shot, developed with the University of Oxford. The vaccine is administered in two doses four weeks apart. The European Union’s drug regulator said on Thursday that it could not rule out a link between the vaccine and blood clots, and said it would add a warning.
  • Police in Miami Beach, Florida have made over 1,000 arrests since February 3, authorities say, as the city struggles to manage thousands of spring break partiers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The city instituted a curfew and declared a state of emergency over the weekend to decrease the number of people flocking to the city. After curfew on Saturday, police responded to crowds on Saturday with pepper spray balls, prompting some to jump on cars, twerk, and throw money into the air, according to the Associated Press. 
  • A British pandemic policy adviser said on Saturday said it is “extremely unlikely,” that U.K. citizens will be authorized to travel overseas for vacation this summer amid the spread of more transmissible variants of COVID-19. Mike Tildesley, who serves on the U.K.’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), told BBC Radio 4 that there could be a “real risk” of citizens bringing home additional variants. 
  • New York state will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone age 50 and up starting Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. President Joe Biden has directed states to make all U.S. adults eligible for vaccinations by May.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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