Latest Morning Briefing Stories
Lawmakers and food banks want to know how the small event planner won a $39 million federal contract with no experience distributing food to charities. The company’s failure to deliver a single box of food so far also raise larger questions about the Agriculture Department’s $3 billion “Farmers to Families Food Box” program, aimed at helping people during the pandemic. Other news on the food supply reports on an Oklahoma food bank and a Nebraska meat packing plant.
About 2.1 million new Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week — making it the 10th straight week that jobless claims held above the 2 million mark.
Media outlets report on news from California, Texas, District of Columbia, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and President Donald Trump have had a contentious relationship at times throughout the pandemic, Cuomo says he had a good talk with the president about a massive investment in train lines, bridges and other building projects to help the state’s economy recover.
Many children rely on schools to provide them at least one meal a day, but advocates and lawmakers are concerned that the problem of childhood hunger would only get worse during the lock down. But as of mid-May only 12 states sent eligible families money and only two had completed the process. Meanwhile, experts warn about a global hunger crisis on the horizon.
The lawyer for the suspended superintendent Bennett Walk released emails showing he regularly updated them about the outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home and asked for help. News on nursing homes is from Nevada, as well.
President Donald Trump announced a policy change that would mean Medicare recipients who pick a drug plan offering the new insulin benefit would pay a maximum of $35 a month starting next year. The roll out, though, left drug pricing reform advocates disappointed and experts scratching their heads.
OSHA experts were confident new airborne infectious disease regulations would make hospitals and nursing homes safer when future pandemics hit–but those rules are time consuming and unpopular. In spring 2017, President Donald Trump’s team stripped the regulation out of OSHA’s agenda.
Christi Grimm, HHS’s principal deputy inspector general, defended her report that hospitals faced severe shortages at the start of the pandemic. The assessment drew criticism from President Donald Trump, who attacked Grimm as being politically biased. He nominated a full-time replacement for Grimm weeks later.
Some states in the South are seeing double-digit increases but have no plans to pull the emergency break on their reopening schedule. Meanwhile, experts predict a slow burn period for the summer. And experts take a look at the early days of the pandemic, how hot spots became hot spots, the danger of “super spreaders” and more.
The industry is vigorously seeking protection from lawsuits that will likely stem from the wave of deaths in nursing homes across the country. But advocates urge lawmakers not to protect nursing homes were neglect and understaffing were big problems even before the pandemic. In other news: how warnings about overrun hospitals put nursing home patients at risk; the White House fails to meet its goal on nursing home testing; a veterans’ home that had chronic issues to begin with; and a national reckoning.
Negotiations are likely to ramp up when lawmakers come back from recess, but what will their offers look like?
Some states have set guidelines to watch out for if reopening triggers another spike that could overwhelm the health system. But others are reopening without any plans to shut down again. The upcoming summer will likely hint at what’s coming in the fall. Meanwhile, a look back at past pandemics shows the dangers of reopening too soon.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) faces increasing pressure from both inside and outside his party to pass another round of relief legislation. But so far he’s been taking a wait-and-see approach, essentially ignoring the $3 trillion bill passed by the House. Meanwhile, the Senate was unable to finalize a deal to extend the amount of time companies have to spend loans obtained through the Paycheck Protection Program.
Media outlets look at important developments in the state of testing–both traditional swab testing and antibody tests–throughout the country.
The government made the deal with AstraZeneca as part of its “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine push. The drugmaker will begin late-stage clinical trials this summer with roughly 30,000 people for the potential vaccine developed at a Oxford University lab. The deal is the latest in a funding race that’s quickly heating up as countries try to secure vaccines that haven’t even been developed yet.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is adamant that the upper chamber won’t rush to pass another coronavirus relief package, despite the House’s ambitious legislation. But not everyone in the party is on board with that plan. Meanwhile, McConnell vows to end the beefed up $600 unemployment benefits policy.
Contact tracing will be key to safely reopening the country, but building up enough of an army for those efforts to be successful challenges stretched-thin state health departments. One small New Jersey town seems to have gotten it right though.
And if the country had locked down two weeks earlier, 54,000 fewer people would have died by early May, according to new estimates from Columbia University disease modelers. The numbers offer a harsh lesson as states move toward reopening.
The Treasury Department has so far disbursed only $37.5 billion of the $500 billion carved out in the CARES Act. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will appear via videoconference to answer lawmakers’ questions about the spending.