Coronavirus Roundup: Labor Secretary Leaving His Post; Vaccine Access Updates
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s a list of this week’s news updates and stories you may have missed.
It’s official: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will be leaving the Biden administration in mid-March to become executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Walsh, who took the role in March 2021, has been at the forefront of the challenges and changes to the workforce as a result of the pandemic and the economic recovery.
“We have been there for workers through a once-in-a-century pandemic and, in a historic recovery that brought deep shifts in labor dynamics, we encouraged and empowered workers to stand up for their rights and demand better opportunities,” he wrote in a letter to Labor employees on Thursday.
Walsh is the first Cabinet departure for the Biden administration. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
The federal government has agreed to purchase up to 1.5 million more doses of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, the company announced on Monday. “This agreement will maintain the U.S. public's access to Novavax' vaccine and support the development of smaller dose vials, strain selection in line with U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendations, and a smooth transition to the commercial market,” said the press release.
Moderna is committed to “ensuring that people in the United States will have access to our COVID-19 vaccines regardless of ability to pay,” even as the federal government stops providing them at no cost in May, the company said in a statement this week. Moderna was reportedly considering charging $110 to $130 per dose, which was met with criticism, Stat News reported.
On Monday, the Republican chairs of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic launched their first investigation into the COVID-19 origins and U.S. money “funneled to the Wuhan Lab.” They sent letters to Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance; Avril Haines, director of national intelligence; Dr. Francis Collins, acting science adviser to the president; and Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, requesting documents and/or interviews and gave most a February 20 deadline.
With the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, two top House Republicans are asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide an accounting of the more than $110 billion the agency used in response to pandemic emergency declarations. They said a deadline of February 27.
When the public health emergency ends, the U.S. Patent and Trade Office will be ending its COVID-19 prioritized examination pilot program, instituted in 2020 to boost the development of innovations to fight against the pandemic, according to notice in the Federal Register.
One of the top challenges facing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is managing changes in the workforce, as it has had a retirement wave and needs to navigate “its post-pandemic hybrid work environment where 80% of FDIC employees are working remotely,” said its watchdog in a new report.
The General Services Administration and Office of Personnel Management are hosting a webinar for acquisition officials to “build a future-ready workforce,” on Feb. 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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