Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Dip in COVID-19 cases offer possible sign of hope

Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Dip in COVID-19 cases offer possible sign of hope

Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

Singer Shakira said she took on two wild boars in Barcelona recently after they “attacked” her and briefly stole her purse

In some possibly good news on the pandemic, cases are starting to decline. But this is far from over and there’s plenty of uncertainty ahead. 

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For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan (psullivan@thehill.com), Nathaniel Weixel (nweixel@thehill.com) and Justine Coleman (jcoleman@thehill.com). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4, @NateWeixel and @JustineColeman8.

Let’s get started.

Declining COVID-19 cases stir cautious optimism 

Is the U.S. finally turning the corner on COVID-19? Experts say it's possible, while cautioning that the pandemic is far from over.

The spike in coronavirus infections from the delta variant is slowing and cases are beginning to decline. Experts think the U.S. could be on the back end of the wave, even as deaths and hospitalizations remain high.

But low vaccination rates in many areas of the country are giving them pause, with some arguing that another seasonal surge after holiday travel is likely, even if it isn’t as high as last winter. There could also be regional spikes, as some areas worsen while others rebound more quickly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the seven-day average of U.S. cases has been declining for the past two weeks. On Sept. 14, the daily average of new cases was just under 150,000. As of Tuesday, it was down to about 107,000.

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Perspective: David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said it’s important to put the declining case numbers in perspective. Just because they are decreasing, he said, doesn’t mean the country is done with the pandemic.

“Every time in the past that we’ve thought we were done and out of the woods, we’ve been wrong. So I would be very hesitant to say that,” Dowdy said. “I think it’s also important for people to realize that right now, even though cases are going down, the number of cases that we’re seeing is still quite high. I think that things are trending in the right direction, but it’s a little too early to declare victory.”

Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM ALTRIA

 

Senate defeats GOP amendment to block Biden vaccine mandate 

The Senate on Thursday defeated a Republican amendment seeking to block President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE's vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more workers.

Republicans and Democrats were split down the middle on the vote, 50-50 in the upper chamber, falling short of the 60 votes needed to pass the measure.  

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) offered the measure, which would block the use of federal funds for vaccine mandates.

Biden announced earlier this month that his Department of Labor would put forward a regulation requiring that businesses with 100 or more employees mandate employees are vaccinated, or get tested once per week. 

Marshall said that while the "vaccine has saved lives," taking it should be a "personal choice."

"Simply put, we must not allow the Administration’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate on private companies to go forward," he added. 

Big picture: Democrats have increasingly embraced vaccine mandates as a popular issue that is key to getting the pandemic under control. 

An Axios-Ipsos poll this month found that 60 percent of the public supported the vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses.

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Read more here

TYSON FOODS HITS 91 PERCENT VACCINATION RATE AFTER MANDATE

And the evidence increasingly shows that mandates work.

Nearly two months after announcing a vaccine mandate for its employees, 91 percent of Tyson Foods’ 120,000 U.S. employees are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Claudia Coplein, the chief medical officer for Tyson Foods, told The New York Times.

Before the mandate was announced, less than half of Tyson’s workforce was vaccinated, according to the Times.

While the company did not release specific information regarding inoculation rates by type of worker, Coplein told the Times “certainly the vaccination rate amongst our frontline workers was lower than our office-based workers at the beginning of this.”

Tyson announced last month that it would be requiring all of its employees in the U.S. to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the fall. The company said all employees in offices had to be inoculated by Oct. 1, and all other employees would have to receive their shot by Nov. 1.

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As part of the mandate, the company said it will give vaccinated front line workers up to 20 hours of paid sick leave.

Read more here.

ASTRAZENECA: VACCINE 74 PERCENT EFFECTIVE IN US TESTING

British drugmaker AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine Vaxzevria has been found to have a 74 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic disease, according to a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

The report, which studied more than 26,000 volunteers in the United States, Chile and Peru, also found the vaccine had an 83.5 percent efficacy rate in people ages 65 and older.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been approved for use in the U.S., though it has been exported from the U.S. for use abroad.

Vaxzevria is currently authorized in more than 170 countries, with the company seeking U.S. approval later this year. 

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In July, AstraZeneca looked to get U.S. approval from the Food and Drug Administration rather than receive emergency authorization, according to The Associated Press.

Read more here.  

A MESSAGE FROM ALTRIA

 

 

'I was one of the lucky ones': Three Democrats recount their abortion stories to panel

Three lawmakers testified Thursday about their previous abortion procedures to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday as Democrats sound the alarm over anti-abortion state laws. 

Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Overturning Roe would be a disaster for young women of color CBC's pivotal role on infrastructure underscores caucus's growing stature MORE (D-Calif.), Cori BushCori BushOmar to accept award Saturday as American Muslim Public Servant of 2021 House progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case The real 'threat to democracy'? Pols who polarize us with their opinions MORE (D-Mo.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDemocratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill MORE (D-Wash.) all detailed how they reached their decisions to get abortions years ago, saying they hoped their narratives would help destigmatize the procedure that has been immersed in controversy for decades. 

In her testimony, Lee said she was sharing her experience for the first time publicly because “of the real risks of the clocks being turned back to those days before Roe v. Wade” when she had a “back-alley abortion in Mexico” at age 16.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she said. “A lot of girls and women in my generation didn't make it. They died from unsafe abortions.”

Significance: Their testimonies come as debates on abortion rights have escalated after Texas implemented its ban on the practice after six weeks and as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on Mississippi’s ban after 15 weeks.

“With a hostile Supreme Court, extremist state governments are no longer chipping away at constitutional rights — they are bulldozing right through them,” Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyFormer Washington Football Team cheerleaders, employees to protest outside stadium Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-N.Y.) said in her opening statement as chairwoman of the committee. 

But ranking member James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Oversight GOP eyes records on Afghanistan withdrawal GOP seeks oversight hearing with Kerry on climate diplomacy  MORE (R-Ky.) argued in his opening statement that the committee had “absolutely no jurisdiction” over state abortion laws, saying the issue “should be left to the states.”

Read more here.

WHAT WE'RE READING

  • Why you’re not getting a delta-specific booster yet (Vox)
  • Why NBA stars who have gotten the shot aren’t advocating for the vaccine (Washington Post)
  • CDC director says U.S. Covid deaths among pregnant women peaked in August (CNBC)

STATE BY STATE

  • Vaccination deadline arrives for health care workers; Rady Children’s Hospital making no exceptions (San Diego Union Tribune)
  • As masking In Oklahoma schools went up, COVID cases In children went down (KOSU
  • Slammed by COVID, statewide system helps transfer rural Washington patients to available hospital beds (The Seattle Times)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s healthcare page for the latest news and coverage. See you Thursday.