Coronavirus Roundup: Early Talks on Possible Military Vaccination Requirement; DHS to Maintain Telework Post-COVID
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
After the Biden administration narrowly missed its vaccination goal of 70% of U.S. adults to have at least their first shot by the Fourth of July, President Biden spoke on Tuesday about their progress so far and continued efforts. As of Wednesday morning, 67.1% of U.S. adults have at least one dose and 58.3% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data.
“As we shift from these centralized mass vaccination sites, where we were doing thousands of people a day, we're going to put even more emphasis on getting vaccinated in your community, close to home, conveniently at a location you’re already familiar with,” said Biden. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
The Homeland Security Department plans to continue allowing telework post-pandemic, Federal News Network reported. “What you’re going to find is a hybrid approach,” Angela Bailey, DHS’ chief human capital officer, told the outlet. “I’m not sure that we’ll go back to the days where people can only telework one day a week. Instead, it’ll be very ad hoc.” DHS is also looking at whether or not it could make some positions completely virtual, although employees would occasionally need to come into the office, said the report.
The Biden administration is likely going to lift the COVID-19 restrictions on the southern border this summer, but Biden allies fear the “logistical and political impact,” Politico reported on Tuesday. This was a Trump-era policy, but the Biden administration has made exceptions for unaccompanied children.
During the briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said “we've always anticipated” there would be vaccine mandates from schools, employers and other institutions. When asked if the White House would encourage these places to have the mandates, she replied, “We're going to leave it up to them to make these decisions.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed during a briefing on Tuesday that there have been some “preliminary discussions at senior levels” about possibly requiring troops to get the vaccine “if and when” the Food and Drug Administration gives them full approval. “But I don't have any decisions to announce today or specific procedures and protocols to speak to,” he added. “It is still under emergency use authorization and it is still a voluntary vaccine...Vaccines of which we believe are safe and effective.”
Three of the nine open priority recommendations for the Labor Department from the Government Accountability Office are coronavirus related, according to a recent report. The recommendations involve the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s oversight of its coronavirus enforcement and the unemployment insurance program.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Tuesday that it has provided over $525 million in coronavirus funeral assistance to more than 78,000 people for deaths that occurred on or after January 20. “Nearly 2,500 dedicated FEMA employees continue to work with applicants to manually review every application and determine eligibility each week,” said a press release. “Eligibility determinations are not driven by state/location; instead, they are based on when the applicant submits all required documentation.” The agency also released the breakdown of applications, amount approved and number of awards by state.
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