White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing Monday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing Monday. Susan Walsh / AP

Coronavirus Roundup: CDC Expected to Release New Guidelines for Vaccinated People; Agencies Provide Resources for Long-COVID

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

The White House released on Monday a list of resources and guidance from the Health and Human Services, Justice, Education and Labor departments for individuals suffering from “long-COVD,” such as how it can be considered a disability under various civil rights laws and grant those individuals protections against discrimination. This release was in conjunction with the White House’s commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to reverse the decision it made two months ago and recommend that vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in some parts of the country, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. 

When asked about updated guidance during the briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “Any of these recommendations, we are always going to be guided by our North Star—and that is the CDC and our health and medical experts.” Also, “It would be actually surprising and odd if our health and medical experts were not having active discussions about how to protect—best protect the American people.” 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that bringing back masks for vaccinated people “is under active consideration.” Politico reported on Monday about the administration's discussions on new guidance. 

During Monday’s briefing, Psaki gave the following responses to a variety of other questions about the federal agencies’ response to the pandemic as the Delta variant spreads:

  • Has there been a determination about whether or not it would be illegal or inappropriate for the president to require the military and civilian federal employees to get vaccinated? “It hasn't been determined that it would be illegal, no. But we have not made a determination about that,” said Psaki. Shortly after the briefing, the Veterans Affairs Department announced its vaccination requirement. 
  • The Federal Aviation Administration’s requirement to wear masks on domestic flights expires in September, do you expect that to stay in place? Psaki didn’t have any updates. 
  • Why has President Biden not named a nominee for Food and Drug Administration commissioner yet? “He's certainly eager to nominate someone,” said Psaki. “He wants to make sure we have the right person to nominate, and he's not going to do it at a pace faster than having the right person to put forward.”
  • On travel restrictions for foreigners: “With the Delta variant, we will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons,” said Psaki. “The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world. Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated, and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.” Reuters first reported this was happening. 
  • Should U.S. citizens overseas, who have been waiting to get vaccinated, fly back to the United States or wait in the countries they’re living in? Will embassies do anything more to help them? Also, will a portion of vaccines that that the United States donated abroad go to these Americans? “That's a really good question. I know that we haven't been working—at this point, to date, that I am aware of—through embassies on programs with American citizens,” Psaki said. “Let me check with the State Department and our COVID team and see if there's more on that.”

Following the news about the VA requiring vaccines for health care workers, Government Executive asked the Defense Department if it plans to adopt a similar requirement and a Defense spokesperson said on Monday evening “there has been no change to DoD policy on the vaccine.” 

The Homeland Security Department announced on Monday evening that it is resuming expedited removal proceedings for certain families who are exempt from the pandemic border policy. This is a fast-tracking procedure that allows some noncitizens to be removed without a hearing before an immigration judge, such as for not having the proper entry documents, committing fraud or falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci is promoting a multi-billion dollar a year plan to produce drugs ahead of the next pandemic, The New York Times reported. “The idea is to make ‘prototype’ vaccines to protect against viruses from about 20 families that might spark a new pandemic,” said the report. Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, first presented this plan at a private meeting in February 2017. 

In a report issued on Monday, the Government Accountability Office said there was limited transparency and oversight of some agencies' use of alternative contracting methods during the pandemic. The Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security departments “obligated at least $12.5 billion on COVID-19-related [other transaction authority] from March 2020 through March 2021, primarily to help accelerate vaccine development and manufacturing,” said the report. “However, of that $12.5 billion, at least $1.6 billion was underreported because HHS misreported its [other transaction authority] as procurement contracts, while DoD and DHS did not accurately identify certain [other transaction authorities] as COVID-19-related.” 

Upcoming: 

  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will give a briefing at 12:30 p.m.
  • The CDC will have a telebriefing at 3 p.m. with a coronavirus update.

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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