On the Money – CDC guidance, omicron threatens businesses
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Today’s Big Deal: The decision to cut isolation time in half for those with asymptomatic COVID-19 is seeing fierce backlash from experts and employee representatives. We’ll also look at the increased risk manufacturing organizations face of being targeted by hackers during the pandemic.
For The Hill, I’m Aris Folley. Write me at email@example.com or @ArisFolley. You can reach my colleagues on the Finance team Naomi Jagoda at firstname.lastname@example.org or @NJagoda and Aris Folley at email@example.com or @ArisFolley.
Let’s get to it.
Guidance, rising cases may hurt businesses
The decision to cut isolation time in half for those with asymptomatic COVID-19 is seeing backlash among employee representatives and experts who say big business sparked the decision more than science did.
Crew and airline workers calling out sick made Christmas travel a nightmare across the U.S. But other industries such as retail and restaurants could be similarly affected, leading businesses into temporary yet unintentional shutdowns — a politically unpopular way to curb the spread that President Biden is trying to avoid.
Just after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Monday it would cut isolation time for asymptomatic people infected with COVID-19 from 10 days to five, Anthony Fauci, the president’s top medical adviser, told CNN the reason for the change had to do with getting people back to work faster.
- “If you are asymptomatic and you are infected, we want to get people back to the jobs, especially those with essential jobs,” Fauci said. “They can get back to the workplace, doing things that are important to keep society running smoothly.”
- The CDC said the change was driven by science showing that the majority of virus transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the first two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after.
- Delta said the guidance allows more flexibility for employers to support the busy travel season. But the CDC’s change is also getting significant pushback from employee representatives for being too focused on employers and not enough on workers.
The Hill’s Alex Gangitano has more here.
LEADING THE DAY
Cyber agency warns of increased threats to manufacturing groups
Manufacturing organizations are at higher risk of being targeted by hackers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s key cybersecurity agency warned Wednesday.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) laid out the potential threats to the critical manufacturing sector in an insights report released Wednesday, noting that attacks could increase due to more remote work, which had expanded the threat surface for hackers to exploit.
- Key areas of concerns highlighted by CISA include the increased use of robotics and remote processes during the pandemic to protect workers, which CISA noted has opened up new security vulnerabilities, and the increasing lack of qualified personnel to protect highly technical manufacturing systems.
- Ransomware attacks, which have become a major concern during the course of the pandemic in all sectors, have also become a threat to manufacturing companies.
- Threats against the manufacturing sector have grown in recent years. The Department of Homeland Security, which houses CISA, announced in 2016 that it had investigated twice the number of attempted attacks on manufacturing companies in 2015 as it had the year before.
Read more from The Hill’s Maggie Miller here.
BACK IN BLACK
Retailers opened more stores than they closed this year
More retail stores opened than closed in 2021, a complete turnaround for the industry that saw so many closures just last year.
Overall, 5,083 stores opened and 5,079 closed in 2021 through Dec. 16, according to NBC News.
The slightly higher number of stores opening marks a potential recovery from an industry left shuttered at times as a result of COVID-19 orders.
The Hill’s Monique Beals has more here.
Domestic travel vaccine mandate back in spotlight
The debate over requiring COVID-19 vaccines for domestic travel is back in the spotlight this week, despite pushback from the business community and the potential for strong backlash if the Biden administration imposes a mandate.
The White House said that a potential mandate is not off the table, and the uptick in COVID-19 cases brought on by the highly transmissible omicron variant has raised questions over whether a requirement is another way to keep Americans safe.
President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, said on Wednesday that the administration is discussing a mandate, but pointed to the safety of the mask requirement in place for all U.S. transportation networks.
Alex has more here.
Good to Know
San Francisco-based delivery company DoorDash will require all employees to make deliveries under its reinstated WeDash immersion program, a spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
Here’s what else have our eye on:
- Apple is offering large bonuses to employees in an attempt to retain talent from rivals such as Meta, the parent company of Facebook.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.