Coronavirus Roundup: The First 100 Days of Biden’s COVID-19 Response
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee published its semi-annual report on Thursday (which spans October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021) that recaps its goals, accomplishments, ongoing projects and insights from reports. In the time span there were 15 reports among the entire IG community about federal workforce safety, which was one of the top management challenges for agencies the committee previously identified.
“Enactment of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March 2021 adds to the independent oversight responsibilities of the PRAC and its member inspectors general,” said Michael Horowitz, Justice IG and committee chair. “We are committed to promoting transparency and conducting aggressive oversight of the more than $5 trillion in pandemic response...A program of this magnitude takes a monumental and whole-of-government effort to execute. The speed at which money has been disbursed and the sheer amount of funding put the funds at high risk of fraud and misuse, making the work of oversight entities like the PRAC and IGs essential to a successful national recovery.” The release of the report coincided with the Biden administration's 100-day mark. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Now that Biden has passed his first 100 days in office during which his administration made significant progress on curbing the pandemic, “the next 100 days — and the 100 days after that — will determine how well COVID-19 is contained,” Politico reported on Friday. “The challenge for Biden, his response team and state health officials will be managing the rolling series of outbreaks possibly driven by more dangerous virus variants, while avoiding the wishful thinking of the Trump administration, which downplayed the disease's lethality.”
The Justice Department IG said earlier this week it’s conducting two surveys in 2021 (of staff and inmates) about the Federal Bureau of Prisons' coronavirus response. It previously did three surveys of staff at BOP’s institutions, contract prisons and residential reentry centers in 2020.
The Housing and Urban Development IG recently reported that, as of March 31, HUD has distributed $3.4 billion and obligated $7.4 billion of its $12.4 billion in CARES Act funds. It has more than $1.6 billion in funds unobligated. “Except for a few challenges, HUD’s process for reporting generally supports CARES Act reporting requirements,” said the IG.
The Border Patrol is not testing migrants upon arrival in the United States unless they are showing obvious signs of coronavirus, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. “U.S. officials say the challenges to testing all the new arrivals when they are first apprehended are insurmountable,” said the report. “There have been no instances of mass spread at U.S. border facilities, and overall numbers of cases are relatively low, according to the Department of Homeland Security...But local officials and shelter operators said they feared that the actual number of infections could be much higher.”
The State Department issued a level four travel advisory (the highest level) urging Americans against traveling to India due to its coronavirus outbreak and said on Wednesday it approved voluntary departures for family members of U.S. government employees. The United States is also sending emergency assistance to India.
Many employee and workplace advocates want to talk with the White House about the upcoming emergency temporary standard for COVID-19, Bloomberg Law reported on Thursday. “The White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has so far held or scheduled at least nine meetings with organizations, in sessions that began Wednesday and will continue through May 5,” said the report. “Neither the Occupational Safety and Health Administration nor the White House have released the standard’s proposed text, leaving the advocacy groups in the dark on whether their concerns are, or will be, addressed.”
Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode looks at the Biden administration’s first 100 days.
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