Coronavirus Roundup: White House Works to Mitigate a Potential Shutdown’s Effect on Pandemic Response; 92% of Troops Vaccinated
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on immunization practices voted on Thursday to recommend individuals who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should receive a booster shot if they are 65 or older, or are younger and have underlying medical conditions that put them at a high risk for coronavirus complications. Then an announcement early on Friday morning said that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was endorsing booster shots for frontline workers as well, thus overruling the advisory committee.
“This aligns with the [Food and Drug Administration] booster authorization and makes these groups eligible for a booster shot,” Walensky said in a statement released a little after midnight. “We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and [Johnson & Johnson] vaccines as soon as those data are available.” Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Some CDC staff members were surprised that Walensky went against the advisory committee’s recommendation, The New York Times reported. “The CDC director’s endorsement of the advisory committee’s recommendations is typically just a formality,” said the report. “Hours before her statement, agency insiders predicted she would stick with the usual protocol because doing otherwise would undermine the process and upset the advisers as well as her own staff. But experts outside the C.D.C. said Dr. Walensky may have had no choice but to align herself with the FDA’s decision.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke during the briefing on Thursday about how a possible government shutdown could impact the public health agencies. “We’re taking every step we can to mitigate the impacts of a potential shutdown on our pandemic response, economic recovery or other priorities,” she said. “Direct public health efforts can generally proceed during a shutdown because they’re exempt and that is certainly our intention. But large swaths of the federal government coming to a screeching halt would certainly not be beneficial to pandemic response, but we are doing everything we can to mitigate.” Following standard procedure, the Office of Management and Budget on Thursday reminded “agency senior staff of the need to review and update orderly shutdown plans.” Funding for federal agencies is set to run out Sept. 30 if Congress fails to act.
Ninety-two percent of active-duty military personnel are vaccinated, President Biden said during remarks on Friday morning.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona supports and encourages states requiring vaccines for school children, Politico reported on Friday. A vaccine has not yet been approved for children younger than 12, however.
Public health experts are “flabbergasted” that Biden hasn’t named a nominee for FDA commissioner yet, Kaiser Health News reported earlier this week. “Under federal law, [acting Commissioner Dr. Janet] Woodcock can serve as acting commissioner until mid-November unless Biden nominates a permanent commissioner, in which case she can remain until that person is confirmed by the Senate,” said the report.
Government Executive obtained an updated version of the Federal Bureau of Prisons coronavirus response plan dated September 7, which has new information on procedures for fully vaccinated staff, official travel and more. It should be noted this was issued two days before President Biden announced the vaccine mandate for federal employees.
The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee is looking for a contracting officer, which is a “once in a career opportunity leading our procurement activities to support independent oversight of over $5 trillion in federal pandemic relief,” said Robert Westbrooks, executive director of the committee.
- The White House coronavirus response team and public health agencies will give a briefing at 12:30 p.m.
- White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Homeland Security Department Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will give a briefing at 2:30 p.m.
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