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COVID-19 Update | February 19, 2021
Important Highlights
The White House announced on Feb. 17 new actions the administration is taking to expand and improve COVID-19 testing. Details on these actions follow. 
  • Expanding testing for schools and underserved populations: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DOD) will invest $650 million to expand testing capacity for K-8 schools and underserved populations (which the administration specifically says includes homeless shelters). Specifically, the announcement says HHS will establish “regional coordinating centers” to support the distribution of vaccines in non-medical settings.  
  • Increase domestic manufacturing of testing materials: HHS and DOD will invest $815 million to increase the domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and other related materials, such as filter pipette tips, nitrocellulose for use in antigen point-of-care tests, and other supplies.  
  • Accelerating genomic sequencing: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will invest approximately $200 million to identify new strains of COVID-19 through expanded use of genome sequencing. The administration says this will increase CDC’s sequencing from around 7,000 samples per week to about 25,000.
Notably, this announcement comes just days after House Democrats advanced proposals in its budget reconciliation package aligning with President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which includes approximately $50 billion in funding to bolster the U.S. national testing strategy. WHG’s full summary on the package’s provisions is available here
Technical Guidance, Standards and Resources
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Clinical Care 
 
Testing and Cases 
 
Occupational Health 
Event Announcements
National COVID-19 Vaccine Forum  
Mon. Feb. 22 – Wed., Feb. 24 
REGISTER 
CDC is organizing a virtual National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine that will bring together practitioners from national, state, tribal, local, and territorial levels who are engaged in vaccinating communities across the nation. This program includes plenary sessions with White House and Federal COVID-19 Response Leadership.
News Highlights
Biden picks another Obama veteran to oversee Medicare, Medicaid (The Washington Post) 
President Biden tapped Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to lead the CMS, according to four people with knowledge of the decision, putting the former Obama administration official and Democratic Hill staffer in the second-most powerful role at HHS. 
Featured Social Media
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The Next Pandemic
Federal Policy Updates
Hearing on "Pathway to Protection: Expanding Availability of COVID-19 Vaccines" 
Tue., Feb. 23, 10:30 am ET 
Officials from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax, and Pfizer will testify at the hearing. Information for this hearing, including the Committee Memorandum, witness list, testimony, and a live webcast will be posted HERE as they become available.  
 
Hearing: “Ready or Not: U.S. Public Health Infrastructure” 
Wed., Feb. 24, 10:00 am ET 
Information for this hearing, including the Committee Memorandum, witness list, testimony, and a live webcast will be posted HERE as they become available. 
SHEA Education and Events
New this week:
  1. Podcast: COVID-19 Vaccination Drive-Thru Clinics 
    Mass Vaccination Playbook (UCHealth) 
  2. Town Hall Round 42 (Long-Term Care focus) 
    Sunday, February 28, 2021 | 3:00 pm ET 
    REGISTER HERE or watch live on Facebook
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