COVID-19 Update | January 22, 2021
Important Highlights
National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness
President Joe Biden unveiled his administration’s “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” a roadmap to guide and centralize the federal government’s response to the pandemic. To begin implementation of the National Strategy, Biden issued a slate of executive actions aimed at:
  • Ramping up COVID-19 testing and vaccines;
  • Increasing the supply of personal protective equipment and other resources;
  • Expanding public health workforce and clinical care capacity;
  • Improving access to affordable care and ensuring COVID-19 testing is free, including for uninsured individuals;
  • Protecting workers through revised employer guidance and increased enforcement efforts; 
  • Fully reimbursing states for National Guard personnel and emergency supplies (through September 30, 2021); and
  • Addressing inequities, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines. 
In addition, the Biden-Harris administration is asking Congress to pass the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan,” which includes $400 billion for the COVID-19 response. While we expect earnest efforts by the new administration to rally bipartisan support for the package (to clear the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster), budget reconciliation will be considered as a back-up pathway for delivering some of these measures. That legislative approach has several restrictions, however, regarding when and how it can be deployed. Current Senate rules allow separate reconciliation bills addressing spending, tax, and debt limit to move in a single fiscal year, but not multiple reconciliation bills addressing an individual subject (e.g., two reconciliation bills in the same fiscal year that include new spending would be prohibited). Congress will first need to adopt a budget resolution for the current 2021 fiscal year in order to formally begin the budget reconciliation process, though that step can be accomplished quickly if Democrats are unified on process. Finally, the discretionary spending components of the COVID relief package (i.e., those that do not implicate tax revenues or entitlement spending) would likely need to be modified in order to comply with reconciliation rules, which may not be possible for some of them.
SHEA Coronavirus News
SHEA Supports Biden Facemask Order and Urges Action on New Research 
SHEA released a statement in support of President Biden’s executive orders requiring facemasks be worn on federal property, airplanes, trains and buses as part of his effort to encourage widespread mask use over the next 100 days. We strongly encourage the Biden Administration to use the Defense Production Act to increase the availability of personal protective equipment to healthcare personnel.
Technical Guidance, Standards and Resources
Federal Policy Updates
Summary of Biden Executive Orders
EO: A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain
  • Immediate Inventory of Response Supplies and Identification
  • HHS to recommend to the President whether any changes should be made to certain delegated authorities with respect to scare materials or supplies, which would be affected by hoarding or price gouging.
  • Develop a strategy to design, build, and sustain and long-term capability in the U.S. to manufacture supplies for future pandemics, by July 20, 2021.
  • Access to the Strategic National Stockpile for federally recognized Tribal governments, Indian Health Service (IHS) healthcare providers, Tribal health authorities, and Urban Indian Organizations
EO: Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats
  • Establishes a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board
  • Addressing the Cost of COVID-19 Testing
  • Enhance the Public Health Workforce Program
EO: Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19
  • Accelerating Development of Novel Therapies
  • Improving the Capacity of the National’s Health Care System to Address COVID-19
  • Improving Access to Quality and Affordable Health Care
EO: Protecting Worker Health and Safety
  • Requires OSHA to issue revised guidance to employers on worker safety during the pandemic by Feb. 4, 2021.
  • Directs OSHA to consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 (e.g., masks in the workplace) and to issue, if necessary, such standard by Mar. 15, 2021. 
  • Requires OSHA to ramp up enforcement efforts through a review of current federal policies, a dedicated national program focused on addressing COVID-19-related violations.
EO: Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats 
  • Enhancing Data Collection and Collaboration Capabilities for High-Consequence Public Health Threats, Such as the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Public Health Data Systems - Review the effectiveness, interoperability, and connectivity of public health data systems
  • Directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a plan for advancing innovation in public health data and analytics in the U.S. 
  • The order details that it does not authorize the disclosure of privileged information, law-enforcement information, national-security information, personal information, of information the disclosures of which is prohibited by law.
EO: Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery
  • Government-Wide Effort to Address Health Equity
  • COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force 
Memorandum: To Extend Federal Support to Governors of National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 and to Increase Reimbursement and other Assistance Provided to States 
SHEA Education and Events
New this week:
  1. Podcast: The Role of Emergency Departments in Vaccination and Vaccination Campaigns
  2. Town Hall Round 39
    Sunday, January 24, 2021 | 3:00 pm ET
International Coffee Talk
Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 9:00 am ET
Speakers: Valeria Fabre, MD & Rodolfo E. Quirós, MD, MSc, MBA, PhD
Moderators: Corey Forde, MD, FSHEA & Xiaoyan, MBBS, PhD
Converse & Convene COVID-19: Safely Reopening Schools During the Pandemic
Friday, February 19, 2021 | 11:00 am ET
Moderator: Westyn Branch-Elliman, MD, MSSc; Harvard Medical School
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