This week marked the one-year anniversary since the World Health organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, and the Biden administration has marked the occasion with a flurry of information, guidance, and assistance for the public and physicians.
While much of President Joe R. Biden’s administrative moves are aimed at the general public, here are five big takeaways from this week that should bring hope for physicians:
- Signing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill – Hours before taking the airwaves, Biden signed an expansive coronavirus relief package a day before previously planned. The bill is packed with assistance for the public as well as tens of billions of dollars for COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, an expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit, and $8.5 billion for the Provider Relief Fund. The previous stimulus package revamped the paycheck protection program loans as described by Andrew Altfest, MBA, president of Altfest Personal Wealth Management; and Ryan Graham, CFA, here.
- Administration orders 100 million more vaccine doses – Biden announced that the federal government would purchase 100 million more doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. The expanded order is the result of a deal brokered by the federal government which sees the Johnson & Johnson vaccine receiving manufacturing and bottling help from competitor Merck.
- Vaccines for all groups by May 1 – As part of a primetime address to the nation, Biden said that he will direct all states, tribes, and territories to open up eligibility for vaccines by May 1 to coincide with a new website that will be launched to guide patients to vaccination locations.
- HHS investing $250 million in safety and vaccination – The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health will offer $250 million in funding as health literacy grants to localities, which will partner with community-based organizations, to reach racial and ethnic minority, rural, and other vulnerable populations.
- Post-vaccination guidelines released – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson shot a patient can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. Fully vaccinated people can also gather indoors with unvaccinated members of one other household without masks unless any of those people, or anyone they live with, is at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Biden says that further guideline will be forthcoming.