Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, November 2020 # 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 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is finalizing new guidelines to shorten its recommended coronavirus quarantine period from 14 days to between 7 and 10 days. The agency hopes more people would be encouraged to observe the quarantine period if it was shortened.
  • Operation Warp Speed is investigating an AstraZeneca vaccine dosing error that may have swayed the vaccine’s efficacy results in trials. It was revealed that some trial participants only received a half dose in the first of two doses, followed with a full dose a month later. Those U.K. trial participants had a higher effective rate of 90 percent, while the Brazil group receiving two full doses had an effective rate of 62 percent. Researchers are unsure whether the counterintuitive findings represent a statistical coincidence or a difference in demographics or immune response.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says that states will have the “final say” in prioritizing the vaccinations and adult population size will decide how they will be apportioned. Azar also said that the federal government won’t wait for recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) which is a CDC advisory committee.
  • The ACIP met on 23 Nov. and advocated that distribution accounts for the disproportionate hospitalizations and deaths in the Black, Latino, and Native American population. The committee also insisted that patients need to be warned about the potential side effects of getting a COVID-19 vaccine so they are not discouraged from getting a second dose. ACIP plans to wait until a vaccine is authorized before it will provide a distribution priority list, but Operation Warp Speed is planning to begin shipping the first doses within 24 hours of FDA Authorization.
  • Since this weekend, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Rep. Ryan Steil (R-WI), and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) have all tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Federal officials plan to begin shipping 300,000 doses of Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapeutic that President Donald Trump touted would be widely available and free after his COVID-19 recovery. The drug, a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab, was authorized on Saturday for emergency use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the limited manufacturing of the drug, experts are concerned that the drug will be “out of reach” for some populations and further exacerbate the already documented racial and economic disparities among the virus’s wake.
  • Sixty-seven percent of Americans believe a coronavirus relief package should be “a top priority” in President-elect Biden’s first 100 days, according to a Morning Consult-Politico poll released on Tuesday. Sixty-eight percent thought Biden should prioritize actions to control the spread of the coronavirus in general. Forty-two percent believe a new health care reform bill should be a top priority in the same opening period of the administration.
  • Fifty-one percent of Americans plan to receive the coronavirus vaccine as soon as it becomes available, according to new polling from Ipsos released Tuesday. That number is up 6 points from the previous week and 14 points over the last two months. Seventy percent say they would get a vaccine once it is available if it comes with public health officials’ endorsement. Among demographics less likely to trust a vaccine than the general population, such as African Americans and Republicans, a majority also say they would receive a vaccine under those circumstances.

In the News:

  • The Dow closed above 30,000 for the first time in history and Wall Street rallied to new highs as political uncertainty faded and investors focused on economic growth.
  • While new COVID-19 cases appear to be reaching a peak in the hard-hit Dakotas and Iowa, public health experts believe most states are still weeks from plateauing as tens of thousands of people test positive every week. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia recorded more cases last week than the week prior. The Transportation Security Administration screened more passengers at the nation’s airports on Sunday than on any day since the pandemic started.
  • A German official cautioned on Tuesday that anti-Semitism has increased during the coronavirus pandemic in the country. Felix Klein, who heads the government’s work against anti-Semitism, told reporters that people protesting coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns are expressing anti-Jewish attitudes. The conspiracy theories include unfounded claims that elites are using the pandemic to oppress the population, which he noted is a common anti-Semitic belief.
  • Officials in Los Angeles County are reportedly considering a stay-at-home order as coronavirus cases exceed a threshold established for determining whether to issue such an order. LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said an enormous surge of 6,000 new cases has put the county's daily average above the 4,000 mark.

[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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