There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News on Sunday that Senate Republicans will release their next coronavirus relief package on Monday, after it was delayed last week. He said it’s “unfair” to say the Republican conference can’t come to an agreement. “The administration and Senate Republicans are completely on the same page” and on Saturday were “just working on technical issues,” Mnuchin stated.
Meanwhile, on Monday morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted Republicans for not releasing the proposal. “We have unemployment running out, we have renter protection running out, we have state and local governments going into a new month and won't have the money and will lay off thousands and thousands of people,” he said on MSNBC. “We want to sit down and negotiate. But you can't negotiate with a ghost.” Here are some other headlines from over the weekend and today that you might have missed.
About 4,000 federal employees said they contracted the coronavirus at work and 60 have died. These employees are seeking disability compensation as a result. A Labor Department inspector general report from earlier this month predicted that number could reach 6,000 within weeks, The Washington Post reported on Monday. On July 17, Government Executive reported that, overall, more than 39,000 federal employees have tested positive for the virus so far.
The White House is launching a regional media campaign to show its “renewed focus” on fighting the pandemic. "We’re targeting more than 200 bookings in the next two weeks to communicate to emerging hot spots how to avoid spread and what the federal government is doing to help them," a White House official told Axios.
In April, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team went door-to-door in two predominantly Black communities in Georgia asking for blood samples, as part of the agency’s coronavirus research on racial disparities. The plan “backfired” because there was little warning beforehand and residents were scared, Politico reported on Sunday. “The episode was emblematic of the federal government’s ongoing failures to address the huge racial and ethnic disparities that have persisted throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”
The first Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial in the United States began on Monday. The possible vaccine was developed by the biotechnology company Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health. The agency expects to enroll about 30,000 adults, who don’t have coronavirus, in the study across 89 research sites nationwide. “Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” said Dr. Francis Collins, NIH director. “The launch of this Phase 3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”
Ahead of Phase 3 beginning, the Trump administration invested an additional $472 million into the trial. This helped expand the trial to 30,000 individuals, Politico reported on Sunday. The trial is part of the administration's “Operation Warp Speed” to develop a vaccine.
The Health and Human Services and Defense departments announced on Sunday that they awarded an “undefinitized” contract with a ceiling of $7.6 million to expand production of custom sample collection material and other coronavirus testing supplies. The contract went to Hologic Inc., a Massachusetts based medical device company.
National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for coronavirus. He is the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to be infected so far. O’Brien’s last public appearance with the president was on July 10, but it is unclear if that was the last time they met, CNN reported on Monday.
On Friday, the Defense Department announced new contracts under the 1950 Defense Production Act worth $77.3 million. They are focused on the domestic electrical, aviation and rare earth material industrial bases. “These actions will help to retain critical workforce capabilities throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19 and to restore some jobs lost because of the pandemic,” said the department.
On Monday, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, urged Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to help renters and homeowners with federally-backed mortgages to avoid evictions and foreclosures. Among the subcommittee’s oversight responsibilities are the pandemic’s effect on housing and relief from the federal government to help with housing. “The [CARES Act’s] eviction moratorium expired last week, and the unemployment assistance is set to expire within days,” wrote Clyburn. “As a result, millions of Americans are now in danger of losing their homes in the middle of a public health crisis. Urgent action is needed to protect homeowners and renters, especially people of color, who have disproportionately suffered from the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus.”
Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode discusses the use of paper money during the pandemic and the reality of actually getting rid of it.
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