Coronavirus Roundup: White House Promises Transparency Around Biden’s COVID Diagnosis
There’s a lot to keep track of. Here’s a list of this week’s news updates and stories you may have missed.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed its advisory committee's recommendation to recommend the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine for adults ages 18 years and older. “If you have been waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine built on a different technology than those previously available, now is the time to join the millions of Americans who have been vaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise again across parts of the country, vaccination is critical to help protect against the complications of severe COVID-19 disease.” Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
President Biden, who is fully vaccinated and twice boosted, was experiencing mild symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday morning. He is working from the White House residence as he recovers. During the briefing on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 coordinator, stressed the importance of the president being vaccinated and used this as another push to get Americans vaccinated. They also said the White House had a plan in place in the event Biden tested positive.
Several reporters asked if they would hear more (and directly) from the president’s doctor, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, whose letter the White House shared on Thursday morning. Jean-Pierre vowed the White House will remain transparent, including daily statements from the doctor.
When one reporter argued “to just put out a statement [from the doctor] and shield him from questions would be the least transparency of any White House in 50 years on a presidential illness,” Jean-Pierre said she “wholeheartedly” disagreed with him statement and said “we are doing this very differently, very differently, that I would argue, than the last administration,” referring to when President Trump got COVID in fall 2020.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the president’s chief medical advisor, said on Tuesday he doesn’t expect to be in his current role by January 2025, which is the end of Biden’s first term. “I don’t know where the word ‘retirement’ came in,” said Fauci, who is 81, at an event from The Hill where he clarified Politico’s reporting from the day before that he was going to retire. “The one thing I do know is that I have other things that I want to do in a professional way that I want to have the capability while I still have the energy and the passion to do them.”
The CDC has stopped monitoring COVID-19 levels on cruise ships, which had some of the early outbreaks. “CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” according to an update to the agency’s website on Monday. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.”
The Small Business Administration watchdog flagged concerns to the agency this week on its data mitigation from the Economic Injury Disaster Loans for COVID-19 relief. “As SBA shifts from reviewing applications to servicing loans and grants, the potential for
identifying additional fraudulent loans increases significantly as borrowers’ default,” said a report from the inspector general office released on Tuesday.
In February, the inspector general office “found that SBA had been migrating data from its software provider into SBA’s custody since December 2021 without a data migration plan,” which was previously an issue in 2019 when SBA moved its data to cloud platforms, wrote IG Hannibal “Mike” Ware. “Although SBA updated its policies as a result of our 2019 review, management did not follow the policies when it began migrating COVID-19 EIDL program data from the service provider’s cloud platform to SBA’s data warehouse.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.