Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care. Want to see a concert at some of the D.C. area's largest venues? Starting in October, venues owned by IMP will be vaccination only, with no exceptions except for children.
Today: The vaccination rate is finally rising again. House Democrats are pressuring drugmakers to lower the cost of insulin, and Texas could be facing a COVID-19 reckoning.
We'll start with numbers:
White House: More than one million vaccine doses administered in past 24 hours
The levels of vaccination in the country are rising. According to White House figures, more than one million doses were administered in the past 24 hours, including half a million people with a first dose.
Thursday marks the first time there have been at least 1 million doses administered in close to seven weeks.
Vaccinations had slowed down after hitting a peak in mid-April of about 3.3 million doses per day, and Thursday's announcement could be a sign of things slowly beginning to turn.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just under 60 percent of the entire eligible U.S. population is fully vaccinated, indicating the U.S. still has progress to make to combat the virus, especially as cases, hospitalizations and deaths have surged across the country.
Caveat: The first doses are a true sign of progress, but the total numbers aren't yet able to distinguish people who get unauthorized booster doses. The administration aims to start making boosters available by next month, but concern over the delta variant has led to people taking matters into their own hands.
Texas faces tipping point as COVID-19 spreads
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 this week as deaths in his state from the coronavirus have more than doubled in the last two weeks and hospitals have reached capacity.
While Abbott suffered a relatively rare breakthrough infection, less than half the state’s total population is fully vaccinated against the virus, putting them at heavy risk of getting COVID-19.
The massive spike in cases could also easily climb more, with unvaccinated students across the state returning to school this week amid a battle with Abbott over mask mandates in classes to protect children aged 12 and under, who do not yet have the option to be vaccinated.
The dynamics have put everyone on edge and have created heated political battles between Abbott and the Democratic leaders of several urban centers.
“We are concerned about escalating numbers. Our cases yesterday were higher than our seven-day moving average, our hospitalizations higher than our seven-day moving average, ICUs higher than our seven-day moving average, so we are still real concerned about the numbers we are seeing,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler (D) told The Hill on Wednesday.
“We do know that the best way, and really the only way, out of this long-term is for people to get vaccinated, so we are doing everything we can to get more and more people vaccinated.”
Three senators announce positive COVID-19 tests in single day
Three senators announced within hours of each other on Thursday that they had tested positive for the coronavirus, despite each being fully vaccinated.
Sens. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation 6 in 10 say Biden policies responsible for increasing inflation: poll Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell MORE (R-Miss.), Angus KingAngus KingManchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats GOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill Dems hit crossroads on voting rights MORE (I-Maine) and John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperOhio GOP congressman tests positive for COVID-19 Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district State Department spokesperson tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Colo.) said they had tested positive in what is known as a breakthrough case, when fully vaccinated individuals test positive for COVID-19. It marks three known breakthrough cases among senators within 24 hours.
The positive tests come as senators have been back in their home states for roughly a week and aren't expected to return to Washington, D.C., until mid-September.
Senators spent hours on the Senate floor together last week, on Aug. 11, before leaving town.
The Senate was in session for roughly 20 hours starting Tuesday morning through early Wednesday to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and approve Democrats' budget, with senators together for much of that time.
Their announcements Thursday bring the total number of known COVID-19 breakthrough cases among senators to four. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics MORE (R-S.C.) became the first earlier this month when he announced that he had tested positive despite being fully vaccinated.
Significance: The vaccines work as intended. They're not meant to prevent you from getting sick entirely, though many people do not experience noticeable symptoms if they have a breakthrough infection. None of the senators needed to be hospitalized.
House Democrats press insulin manufacturers for lower prices
Democratic leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee ramped up pressure on three major insulin manufacturers on Thursday to push to reduce the cost of the diabetes treatment.
Full committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and oversight subcommittee Chairwoman Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteColorado remap plan creates new competitive district Overnight Health Care: WH says more than one million vaccine doses administered in 24 hours | Texas faces tipping point as COVID-19 spreads | House Democrats press insulin manufacturers for lower prices House members to urge FDA to remove in-person requirement for abortion medication MORE (D-Colo.) requested Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi detail the actions they’ve taken to improve insulin prices since the committee inquired about the topic in early 2019. The three companies control 99 percent of the world’s insulin.
“The Committee is troubled that despite your company’s expressions of shared concern, insulin prices in the United States remain unacceptably high,” the lawmakers wrote in the letters. “This is particularly frustrating considering Americans continue to bear a disproportionately high financial burden for their insulin compared to diabetes patients in other countries.”
The lawmakers called for the manufacturers to provide updated information on any list or net price increases, the gross revenue and net profit and what steps the companies have taken to improve accessibility and decrease cost.
Manufacturers’ response: Eli Lilly called insulin affordability "critical" in a statement to The Hill, saying "Lilly is committed to ensuring affordable insulin is available to people who need it.”
Novo Nordisk said in a statement that it is aware of the letter and looks "forward to ongoing dialogue with the Committee on policy solutions that support patients."
House members to urge FDA to remove in-person requirement for abortion medication
House Democrats have introduced a resolution that aims to encourage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reconsider a ban on mandating that accessing abortion medication be in person in the future.
The FDA in April ended restrictions on mailing abortion pills during the pandemic, after the former Trump administration moved to keep the decades-old requirement for in-person pickup of the drug mifepristone amid the public health emergency surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. It did not, however, address whether the practice would stay in place after the pandemic.
Sponsors of the resolution, lead by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHouse Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team New York City helicopter complaints skyrocket Trump company in late-stage talks to sell DC hotel: report MORE (D-N.Y.), said in a statement Thursday that lifting in-person restrictions for the drug mifepristone, one of two pills administered in early pregnancy abortion, will not lessen its safety.
What we’re reading
U.S. officials’ decision on Covid-19 booster shots baffles — and upsets — some scientists (Stat)
Acting FDA chief Janet Woodcock ruled out as permanent nominee (Bloomberg News)
New SARS-CoV-2 variants have changed the pandemic. What will the virus do next? (Science)
State by state
Pandemic has never been worse in Mississippi, top doctor says as 20,000 students are quarantined (Washington Post)
Baker issues one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates for tens of thousands of state workers (Boston Globe)
Iowa Governor defends law banning school mask requirements as Biden administration urges reversal (Iowa Public Radio)
Op-eds in The Hill