Federal Updates

  • FDA review appears to pave the way for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 5 to 11

    Washington Post

    October 22, 2021 - The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine appears poised to become available to children 5 to 11 years old within weeks, after a Food and Drug Administration review found the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks in most scenarios, with the possible exception of when there are very low levels of viral transmission. The review found that for four scenarios that were weighed, “the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine 2-dose primary series clearly outweigh the risks.” But in one, when the virus was at its lowest levels, there could be more hospitalizations related to a rare heart side effect associated with the vaccine than the number of hospitalizations prevented from covid-19, the illness caused by the virus. Read the full article here.

  • The federal government pledges $100 million to address health care worker shortages


    October 15, 2021 - As health care workers face increased pandemic burnout, some states — particularly in underserved areas — have had challenges retaining existing staff and recruiting new clinicians. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now committing $100 million through the American Rescue Plan to help solve the problem. "Our health care workers have worked tirelessly to save lives throughout this pandemic and now it's our turn to invest in them," Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. "This investment is critical to ensuring state public health officials can continue supporting specific needs across their communities," he said. Read the full article here.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggests Democrats could cut major pieces of Biden’s economic plan


    October 12, 2021 - Democrats could slash entire pieces of President Joe Biden’s economic plan to push it through Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday. Party leaders have acknowledged they will likely have to cut $1 trillion or more from their $3.5 trillion social safety net and climate proposal. Trying to pass legislation with a razor-thin majority and no Republican votes, Democrats have to appease centrists who have called for a smaller bill. Read the full article here

  • FDA authorizes new rapid COVID-19 test, says capacity will double

    The Hill

    October 4, 2021 - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday authorized a new rapid, at-home COVID-19 test, in a move it said is expected to double the availability of such tests in the coming weeks. The FDA said it has authorized a coronavirus test from the company ACON Laboratories. It is not the first authorization of such a test, which can deliver results in as little as 15 minutes, but, amid supply shortages, the move could be key in boosting their availability. Jeff Shuren, a top FDA official, said the move "is expected to double rapid at-home testing capacity in the U.S. over the next several weeks. Read the full article here.

  • U.S. Reaches 75% of Adults With at Least One Vaccine Dose


    Sept. 8 - Three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Tuesday, according to the White House, setting a new milestone in the country’s fight against the pandemic. But with a continued surge of cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, President Joe Biden plans a speech Thursday to outline a “six-pronged strategy” to “get the pandemic under control,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. The U.S. hit 70% of adults with at least one dose in early August, four weeks after Biden’s July 4th target for the achievement. Despite wide availability of free shots, hesitancy among many Americans -- especially political conservatives -- has left the U.S. well behind many other countries in inoculating its population. Read the full article here

  • FDA nears day of reckoning on e-cigarettes


    Sept. 7 - The Food and Drug Administration is nearing a pivotal deadline for deciding the fate of every e-cigarette on the market — and potentially reshaping the vaping industry. The agency is reviewing millions of applications from e-cigarette makers, and must decide by Sept. 9 whether their products are “appropriate for the protection of public health”: safe for current smokers and not appealing to non-smokers. FDA has already blocked the sale of 55,000 flavored vape products from three companies that did not meet the standard. Read the full article here

  • Judge Pushes Back On Protections For The Sacklers In The Purdue Pharma Bankruptcy


    August 26, 2021 - A federal bankruptcy judge says he'll rule Friday on the fate of Purdue Pharma and its owners, members of the Sackler family, who are at the center of a national reckoning over the deadly opioid epidemic. Judge Robert Drain signaled he is likely to approve the reorganization plan for the makers of OxyContin. But he also demanded last-minute changes limiting legal immunities granted under the deal to the Sacklers and their associates. Members of the family say they did nothing wrong but have agreed to pay roughly $4.3 billion and give up ownership of their bankrupt company. Read the full article here

  • Report shows big spike in mail ballots during 2020 election


    August 16, 2021 - Fewer than one-third of voters casting ballots in last year’s U.S. presidential election did so at a polling place on Election Day as the coronavirus pandemic led states to greatly expand mail-in balloting and early voting, according to a federal report released Monday. The report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission captures just how much the electorate embraced non-traditional voting methods despite repeated attempts by former President Donald Trump to undermine mail voting. While voting by mail has been on the rise in recent years, the 2020 election marked a major shift in the way people cast ballots, at least temporarily. This was driven largely by the pandemic and voters wanting to avoid crowded polling places. Read the full article here

  • If You Think Your Kids Are Eating Mostly Junk Food, A New Study Finds You're Right


    August 11, 2021 - Kids and teens in the U.S. get the majority of their calories from ultra-processed foods like frozen pizza, microwavable meals, chips and cookies, a new study has found. Two-thirds — or 67% — of calories consumed by children and adolescents in 2018 came from ultra-processed foods, a jump from 61% in 1999, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the medical journal JAMA. The research, which analyzed the diets of 33,795 youths ages 2 to 19 across the U.S., noted the "overall poorer nutrient profile" of the ultra-processed foods. Read the full article here

  • Missouri court rules Medicaid expansion must begin immediately

    The Hill

    August 10, 2021 - Missouri officials must implement the voter-approved Medicaid expansion immediately, a state judge ruled Tuesday, rejecting a request from the attorney general's office for at least a two month delay. The ruling by Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem follows a unanimous ruling by the state's Supreme Court last month in favor of expansion. The Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision by Beetem blocking implementation, and remanded the case back to him to “issue a judgment for the plaintiffs.” Read the full article here.


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