Coronavirus Roundup: Trump Official Subpoenaed Over COVID-19 Procurement; FDA Greenlights More Boosters
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, subpoenaed Peter Navarro, former director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy and an assistant to President Trump, over his pandemic response.
“Documents previously released by the Select Subcommittee show that rather than implement a coordinated national strategy to alleviate critical supply shortages, Mr. Navarro and other Trump administration officials pushed responsibility to the states and pursued a haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement—contributing to severe shortages of critically needed supplies and putting American lives at risk,” Clyburn said in a statement. “White House officials, including Mr. Navarro, also appear to have sidelined career procurement officials and exercised inappropriate influence over contract awards, leading to the award of contracts without adequate diligence or competition.”
Navarro didn’t comply with the select subcommittee’s earlier request for documents and information. With this subpoena, he is compelled to produce various documents by December 8 and appear at a deposition on December 15. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Despite the Occupational Safety and Health Administration suspending enforcement and implementation of the vaccine rule for private businesses while a court case is ongoing, “we are still heading towards the same timeline” with a January 4 deadline, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during the briefing on Thursday. “The Department of Justice is vigorously defending the emergency temporary standard in court. And we are confident in OSHA's authority.”
Ninety-four percent of health care employees at the Veterans Affairs Department submitted information on either their vaccination status or exemption request, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said during a briefing on Thursday. He added that the counseling process, which is the first part of the progressive discipline process, is "helping drive up the numbers.” Also, “we're planning in the event that we have to relieve people in certain sensitive areas, [so] that we have capacity across the system where we can deploy people to cover shortages.” Health care employees had an earlier deadline than other federal employees.
The Food and Drug Administration announced on Friday that all adults who received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are eligible for booster shots six months after their second dose. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a briefing on Wednesday that as soon as the FDA acts “we at CDC will act swiftly.” The CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices is meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss and vote on boosters.
The Office of Management and Budget appears to be trying to “plug some of the holes in its legal foundation,” of the vaccine mandate for federal contractors, Richard Arnholt, member of the law firm Bass, Berry & Sims, said in a post on Thursday. “Likely in response to the flurry of litigation challenging the government contractor vaccine mandate, on November 16 [OMB] published a new notice of determination and request for comments in the Federal Register,” that “rescinds and supersedes the prior notice issued on September 24,” he continued. “Part I published in the Federal Register for the first time the entire [Safer Federal Workforce] Task Force Guidance" and the other parts include an expanded economic analysis and "attempts to address procedural problems.”
The Health and Human Services Department is seeking public comment on its website that centralizes information and resources on coronavirus news, vaccines, treatments and research. The purpose is to collect feedback on the “initiative’s two target audiences (the general public and healthcare providers) to identify evolving needs and better disseminate relevant information as it relates to COVID-19 treatment and Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines clinical trial resources, specifically,” said a notice in the Federal Register. The department previously sought comment, but did not receive any responses, so is extending the deadline 30 days.
Robin Carnahan, General Services Administration administrator, said at an event earlier this week that GSA is launching new evaluations into American Rescue Plan spending to review equity in programs, Federal News Network reported.
Upcoming: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will give a briefing at 1 p.m.
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Eric Katz contributed to this report