Coronavirus Roundup: Smithsonian and National Archives Advance Reopenings; Court Sides with CDC on Cruises
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
The Health and Human Services inspector general office tweeted on Monday that July 26-30 is whistleblower Appreciation Week. “Whistleblowers play a critical role in keeping our government honest, efficient [and] accountable,” said the tweet. “We will share one #MythandFact each day during the week to help dispel myths about whistleblowers.” It doesn’t mention the novel coronavirus, but whistleblowers have been central to shedding light on gaps in the federal government’s pandemic response. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
The Smithsonian Institution is phasing out time entry passes and extending museum hours starting on Tuesday. Also, the Smithsonian will go back to pre-pandemic capacity levels at the museums and national zoo. There are still several health and safety measures in place, as outlined in a press release.
The National Archives is starting a limited reopening of its research rooms on August 2. “[The National Archives and Records Administration] services will look very different from the services provided prior to COVID-19. Research visits will be by appointment only and will require a virtual consultation prior to the onsite visit,” said a press release. “Boxes of records will be pulled in advance and will be waiting at an assigned table. Research appointments will initially be for four to five hours total, depending on the location. In addition, we have implemented a number of measures to ensure the safety of our researchers and staff.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention affirmed in a statement on Friday that unaccompanied migrant children can enter the United States, which is an exception to a pandemic policy instituted by the Trump administration. The Biden administration temporarily made this exception in February and now the decision is solidified. There have been many calls recently for the administration to get rid of the policy altogether, claiming it is inhumane and/or not needed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In a late-night ruling on Saturday, a federal appeals court allowed the CDC to enforce its more measured plan for resuming cruises, which was a setback for Florida’s attempts to ramp up cruises, Politico reported. “The appeals court’s one-page order, issued just before midnight Saturday, offered no explanation for the decision beyond saying the federal government had made ‘the requisite showing’ to obtain a stay allowing the CDC rules to remain in effect,” said the report. “The panel did indicate that one judge dissented.”
In an interview with Reuters last week, the CDC defended the continued mandate to wear masks on public transportation, amid calls from Republicans to repeal it. “I get we're all just over this emotionally. but I do think we will succeed together if we realize the virus is the enemy and it's not your fellow citizen or the person sitting next to you on a plane or a piece of cloth that you have to wear over your face,” said Marty Cetron, director for the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
During the briefing on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the Biden administration will be encouraging other groups to require vaccines for their employees or residents and she said, “We believe that local communities, entities, organizations are going to make decisions about what they need to do to keep their community safe.”
In a follow-up question the reporter asked, “and what about for federal workers or members of the military?” Psaki replied she had no news to share on that front.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said at an event on Monday that domestic FDA inspections are back to normal, Politico reported.
Postal workers in Minnesota filed Occupational Safety and Health Administration complaints about their distribution center last year and “the limited response to [Alejandra] Hernandez and her colleagues’ appeals for help provides a window into the failures of the Postal Service, one of the country’s largest employers, and OSHA,” ProPublica reported. “Postal workers have routinely sought help from OSHA during the pandemic, but their complaints have had little effect,” said the report. “Since February of last year, USPS employees across the country have filed more than 1,000 complaints alleging COVID-19-related hazards. Following those complaints, OSHA issued citations for four violations, all of which the Postal Service has contested. The USPS hasn’t been obligated to make changes or pay penalties for any of the reported safety hazards.”
The Defense Department inspector general published its quarter three COVID-19 oversight plan on Friday. There are six listed ongoing investigations, which includes how department contracting officials handled terminated contracts during the pandemic and how the department managed its vaccine distribution.
Upcoming: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will give a briefing at 12:30 p.m.
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