Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, June 2021

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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.

Dear Readers:  We will be ending the publishing of Cornavirus:  The Hill and the Headlines on Friday, June 4.  We thank you for joining us as we navigated the rush of information and expansive government actions since the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago. 

In Washington:

  • Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled that the Senate can only discharge one more automatic budget reconciliation this year, upending Democrat’s strategy to sidestep Republicans in advancing President Biden’s agenda.  The ruling effectively means that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will not be able to split up the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, as well as Biden's calls to expand Medicare and lower the price of prescription drugs, into multiple reconciliation packages.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study showing thousands more kidney failure patients died during the first seven months of the coronavirus pandemic than usual. Between February and August 2020, the CDC recorded as many as 13 additional kidney failure patients' deaths per every 1,000 patients. Excess deaths were two to three times higher for dialysis patients than transplant patients.
  • President Biden on Wednesday urged Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they haven't yet, declaring a “national month of action” to reach his goal of having 70 percent of adults with at least one shot by July 4. The White House will offer a range of incentives, access to shots, and partnerships with private companies, including pharmacies, child care centers, and Black-owned salons and barbershops to speed the effort.
  • Twelve U.S. states now have 70 percent of adult residents who have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, CDC data published Tuesday shows. California and Maryland most recently reported crossing the milestone, joining Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. The U.S. is reporting an average of 1.2 million vaccinations per day over the past week, according to the CDC.
  • A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday denied a request by a group of landlords to resume evictions, leaving the CDC’s temporary nationwide eviction moratorium intact for now. Last month Judge Dabney Friedrich of the federal district court in Washington, D.C. struck down the moratorium after finding the agency had overstepped its authority. But Friedrich, a Trump appointee, blocked her ruling from taking immediate effect. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to lift Friedrich’s stay on Wednesday.
  • A Department of Labor’s Inspector General report found that the Department and state unemployment agencies’ implementation of expanded unemployment insurance benefits was fraught with hurdles and may result in as much as $87.3 billion in improper benefit payments. Congress created three new unemployment programs under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

In the news:

  • On Sunday, the U.S. recorded over 23,000 new COVID-19 cases and 641 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. According to CDC data, 51 percent of all Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, and 41 percent are fully vaccinated.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 variant first detected in India in October has now spread to at least 62 countries as outbreaks surge across Asia and Africa — despite a 15 percent week-over-week drop in cases across the globe. The P.1 variant, now named Gamma, has spread to 64 countries.
  • Moderna announced that it has a new drug substance production agreement in the Netherlands and will be doubling its expected EU production with an additional 300 million doses per year.
  • Around 3.7 million Americans will be affected by states’ early withdrawal from federal unemployment programs, according to a CNBC analysis of Labor Department data. In the past month, 25 states have announced plans to end pandemic-era benefits ahead of their formal expiration on September 6. Some states are ending the aid as early as June 12. Maryland on Tuesday became the latest state to announce its withdrawal, effective July 3. 
  • Colorado plans to offer $50,000 scholarships to 25 randomly selected minors who get their COVID-19 vaccines, extending the state’s adult lottery initiative to adolescents. Gov. Jared Polis (D) unveiled the lottery Wednesday, which aims to get those aged 12 to 17 vaccinated by distributing a total of $1.25 million in scholarships. 
  • Anheuser-Bush announced it teamed up with the White House and said the company will buy 200,000 Americans a free alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage if the nation reaches Biden’s goal of 70 percent of American adults being partially vaccinated by July 4.

[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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