Matt Rourke / AP

Coronavirus Roundup: Lawmakers Look to Expedite Stimulus Payments to Beneficiaries; NIH Questions AstraZeneca’s Data

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

About 25% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 13.7% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data. The states/territories that have administered the most doses per 100,000 of the total population are: Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Guam, American Samoa and the Republic of Palau. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee called on the president to prioritize giving vaccines to National Personnel Records Center employees, so they can go back into offices and resume providing the records veterans need to receive their benefits, Federal News Network reported on Tuesday. They said the center has been doing everything it can during the pandemic, but that “is not enough to keep up with the increasing backlog of record requests.” 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report earlier this week about how the Internal Revenue Service handled tax-filing season in 2020 amid pandemic disruptions. Looking forward, “IRS management stated that they will continue to offer overtime and plan to increase fiscal year 2021 staffing,” said the report. Also, the agency will allow telework for the current filing season that is underway and “is looking into ways to expand telework opportunities to transition the majority of its workforce to telework and to make certain types of work portable.” The review was conducted from November 2019 through December 2020, so some of these changes could have already occurred. 

House Democrats wrote to the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration on Monday urging them to move faster to deliver stimulus payments to Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Railroad Retirement Board and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries. “We were alarmed to learn recently that most [of them] who are not required to file a tax return have not yet received their payments and the IRS is unable to provide an expected timeline for these payments,” the lawmakers wrote. “Some of our most vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities, including veterans who served our country with honor, are unable to pay for basic necessities while they wait for their overdue payments.”

On Tuesday the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases released a statement saying AstraZeneca “may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” on its coronavirus vaccine that it developed with the University of Oxford. It was the agency’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board, specifically, that raised concerns. The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and National Institutes of Health, which houses NIAID, provided funding for the trial.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Stat News he “was sort of stunned” by this revelation. “We just felt we could not remain silent. Because if we did remain silent, we could be understandably accused of covering something up. And we definitely didn’t want to be in that position.”

AstraZeneca said the results it released “were based on a pre-specified interim analysis,” and it would “immediately engage with the independent data safety monitoring board to share our primary analysis with the most up to date efficacy data.”

A group of bipartisan senators that introduced a bill to extend the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program shared a letter from 95 organizations on Tuesday endorsing the legislation. “While we realize the [SBA] is under tremendous time constraints and is struggling with internal resource issues, our members are highly concerned by the lack of progress on major [PPP] processing issues, including hold/error codes and application rejections due to taxpayer identification number issues or mismatches, in addition to many unresolved technical problems with the current PPP process,” the organizations wrote. “These delays and denials may put many applicants in danger of not making the March 31st authorization deadline.” The bill would extend it to May 31, 2021. The House passed a similar version last week. 

Michael Horowitz, Justice IG, testified before a House subcommittee on Wednesday about management challenges at the Justice Department, which included the coronavirus response. He said the department is still challenged with keeping employees, contractors, federal inmates and detainees safe and “performing its enforcement and national security responsibilities” during the pandemic. Also, the pandemic has made it even more difficult for the IG’s office to access and store "highly sensitive classified information outside of the Washington, D.C. area,” which has led to more delays in its “efforts to perform critically important national security-related work.” 

The Biden administration enlisted the Christian Broadcasting Network Inc., Nascar and the American Farm Bureau Federation to persuade those they think they can’t reach to get the vaccine, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. 

Moncef Slaoui, the former co-leader of “Operation Warp Speed” was fired from the board of directors of Galvani, a joint venture between Verily and GlaxoSmithKline to develop bioelectronic medicines, due to allegations of sexual harassment, Stat News reported on Wednesday. The allegations were from a few years ago when Slaoui worked at GlaxoSmithKline. In addition to the board removal, GlaxoSmithKline is going to rename its Slaoui Center for Vaccines Research in Rockville, Maryland, according to the report. 

Upcoming: Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Cecilia Rouse, and Member of the Council of Economic Advisers Heather Boushey will give a briefing at 12:30 p.m.

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.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.