Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at Union Station on Feb. 5. Buttigieg is in quarantine after coming in close contact with a security detail member who tested positive for coronavirus.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at Union Station on Feb. 5. Buttigieg is in quarantine after coming in close contact with a security detail member who tested positive for coronavirus. Carolyn Kaster/AP

Coronavirus Roundup: Transportation Secretary in Quarantine; FDA Gives Emergency Authorization to Another Antibody Treatment

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

Following a challenge initiated last fall, the IBM Center for The Business of Government published a report on Wednesday with the top seven essays on how the government can transform its operations and management following the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the main themes of the essays are the “government jobs best suited to shift virtually,” “reimagining how government delivers services and products to the public” and “building supply chain resiliency making them immune to unpredictable shocks.” Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

The White House announced on Wednesday 12 non-federal individuals who were added to the administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. They “represent a diversity of backgrounds and expertise, a range of racial and ethnic groups, and a number of important populations, including: children and youth; educators and students; health care providers; immigrants; individuals with disabilities; LGBTQ+ individuals; public health experts; rural communities; state, local, territorial and tribal governments; and unions,” said a press release. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is quarantining for 14 days after he came in “close contact” with a member of his security detail who tested positive for coronavirus, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday. 

The Defense Department inspector general published a report on Tuesday about the coronavirus response on Navy ships last year. “DoD and the Navy had policies, plans and procedures to mitigate the spread of pandemic influenza and infectious disease,” said the report. “Additionally, the Navy issued additional policies, plans and procedures, and collected and disseminated lessons learned to specifically prevent and mitigate, or combat, COVID-19. However, the Navy had not fully implemented measures intended to reduce the risk of the spread of infectious diseases. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we found that four out of five Navy Component Commands did not conduct a biennial Pandemic Influenza & Infectious Disease exercise in accordance with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations requirements.” 

Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt who raised the alarm about a coronavirus outbreak on his aircraft carrier in March and then was fired, was thrown “under the bus one last time,” according to Task & Purpose. “While the inspector general’s office faulted some Navy commands for not holding required biennial exercises before the COVID-19 crisis began, the report places most of the blame for the deadly outbreak aboard the Theodore Roosevelt on the ship’s leaders — although it does not mention Crozier by name,” Task & Purpose reported. The IG “report fails to mention just how quickly things spiraled out of control aboard the Theodore Roosevelt after the first sailors tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24.” 

Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said during a briefing on Tuesday that the administration has increased its vaccine supply to states, tribes and territories by 28% during its first three weeks in office. Also, “starting next week, we will begin a new program with federally qualified health centers, or as many people know them, ‘community health centers,’” which “provide primary care services in underserved areas, reaching almost 30 million people,” he said. “Under this new program we will begin directly sending vaccine supply to community health centers, enabling them to vaccinate the people they serve.” He added, “we look forward to partnering with them to ensure equity” in vaccine distribution. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that one in 10 Americans have received at least their first vaccine shot, CNN reported on Wednesday. 

The Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to another antibody treatment for coronavirus by the drug maker Eli Lilly. The treatment combines two monoclonal antibody drugs. In November, FDA gave emergency use authorization to bamlanivimab for “mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and certain pediatric patients,” the FDA said in a statement. “While bamlanivimab and etesevimab administered together resulted in a lower risk of resistant viruses developing during treatment compared with bamlanivimab administered alone, both treatments are expected to benefit patients at high risk of disease progression.” 

The FDA's vaccine advisory committee will meet on February 26 to discuss emergency use authorization for Johnson and Johnson's coronavirus vaccine, according to a post in the Federal Register on Wednesday. 

The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency released a report on Tuesday about the IG community’s efforts to curb waste, fraud and abuse in federal grants, which they are using in their “oversight of more than $1 trillion in financial assistance for COVID-19 disaster relief.” 

Twenty-one Republicans senators asked Biden on Tuesday why he rescinded an executive order from President Trump that required agencies to post their guidance documents in a searchable database online, that he claimed was one of the “harmful policies” hampering the federal government's response to the pandemic, recession, climate change and racial justice. “Transparency will not undermine the fight,” they wrote in a letter. “It is simply wrong to believe that Americans are better off not knowing which and how federal rules and regulations apply to them.” Government Executive previously reported the executive order was part of the Trump administration's efforts to rein in “unaccountable bureaucrats.”

Upcoming: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will give a briefing at 12:30 p.m. 

Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode discusses how federal employees are feeling burned out during the pandemic.

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 pandemic? Email us at newstips@govexec.com.

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