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Coronavirus Roundup: Pentagon Extends Expiration Date for ID Cards; CDC Looking to Update Assessment of States’ Public Health Emergency Preparedness

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61.1% of U.S. individuals ages 12 and up have received at least one vaccine dose and 49.9% are fully vaccinated. President Biden hopes to have 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4, but vaccination rates have been slowing recently, possibly complicating that goal. During a briefing on Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attributed the slowdown last week to Memorial Day weekend and said, “there's no question it's a bold and ambitious goal,” so this is “one of the reasons that we launched this month of action to ensure that we were using every tool at our disposal to push these numbers.” 

In terms of race and ethnicity, whites and non-Hispanics have the highest percentage for partial and full vaccinations and for age, individuals 25-39 years old and ages 50-64 do. Females have a slight edge on males, according to the CDC. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

The CDC is seeking public comment on proposed updates to its assessment of states, localities and territories’ public health emergency preparedness. It doesn’t mention the coronavirus specifically, but Alexandra Koch, managing associate at Hagerty Consulting, an emergency management consulting firm, wrote “the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted gaps in public health planning, preparedness, and incident response” and there is a “unique opportunity” to expand the Operational Readiness Review. 

The Defense Department said on Monday it’s extending the expiration dates for uniformed services identification cards as part of its efforts to ensure the health and safety of Defense personnel and beneficiaries. 

The National Personnel Records Center believes it will take 18-24 months to clear its pandemic-caused backlog of records requests, which includes documents veterans need to access their benefits and other services, Federal News Network reported on Monday. “But that timeline depends on several factors, including the agency’s ability to work with other federal departments, hire more staff and, most importantly, digitize its existing trove of military records and share them with VA and others,” said the report. “If it succeeds, [the National Archives and Records Administration] believes it’ll emerge as a more efficient and digitally-savvy organization than it was before, and the other agencies that rely on records from the [center] will grow more productive too.” 

The Agriculture Department announced on Tuesday it’s investing more than $4 billion to strengthen the country’s food system, citing lessons learned from the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. “The Build Back Better initiative will make meaningful investments to build a food system that is more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy food produced and sourced locally and regionally by farmers and processors from diverse backgrounds,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a statement. “I look forward to getting to work as co-chair of the new Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force and help to mobilize a whole-of-government effort to address the short-term supply challenges.” 

The Environmental Protection Agency inspector general reported on Monday the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory “has faced and continues to face challenges in adapting to the coronavirus pandemic while maintaining a strong compliance presence and engaging with the regulated community.” However, despite the challenges, including the laboratory closure from March 2020 through September 2020, the lab “mitigated these impacts on its compliance programs.”

Upcoming: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, National Economic Council Deputy Director Sameera Fazili, and Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness Peter Harrell will give a briefing at 1 p.m. 

Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode is about the deadline for agencies’ return to office plans, the latest vaccine news and other coronavirus updates. 

Help us understand the situation better. Are you a federal employee, contractor or military member with information, concerns, etc. about how your agency is handling the coronavirus? Email us at newstips@govexec.com.

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