Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Democrats say White House isn’t budging in coronavirus relief stalemate | Top Fed official says quick reopenings damaged recovery from coronavirus | Nearly three dozen health experts object to HHS coronavirus database

Greg Nash

Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care.

Millions of unemployed people are in limbo as relief talks continue to go nowhere, a top banking official said he thinks states reopened too quickly, and government health experts are pushing back on the new HHS COVID-19 database.

We’ll start with Congress:

Talks stalled: Democrats say White House isn’t budging in coronavirus relief stalemate

There are no signs of an imminent breakthrough in coronavirus talks.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Wednesday that the White House isn’t “budging” in the stalemated coronavirus relief negotiations, the latest sign that a deal is not on the horizon.

The two Democratic leaders said in a joint statement that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had made an “overture” to meet but also made clear that the White House wasn’t moving on either the price tag of the legislation or what should be in it.

“We have again made clear to the Administration that we are willing to resume negotiations once they start to take this process seriously. The lives and livelihoods of the American people as well as the life of our democracy are at stake,” Pelosi and Schumer added.

The joint statement comes nearly a week after talks between congressional Democrats, Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows derailed amid sizable policy and political differences.

Read more here.

Top Fed official says quick reopenings damaged recovery from coronavirus

A top Federal Reserve official said Wednesday that the inability of the U.S. to control the coronavirus pandemic limited the benefit of trillions in fiscal stimulus approved by President Trump and Congress earlier this year.

Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said in a Wednesday interview with The Hill that the abrupt peel-back of restrictions imposed to slow the pandemic in the U.S. prevented record-breaking economic rescue efforts from fostering a quick recovery.

“Normally with the kind of stimulus that we’ve seen with both fiscal policy and monetary policy, you’d actually expect a V-shaped recovery,” Rosengren said, referring to an immediate economic recovery from a downturn of similar speed and scale.

“The reason we’re not seeing a V-shaped recovery and that we’re seeing a pause right now is that it’s very hard for fiscal or monetary policy to offset a public health concern,” he continued.

Controlling the virus helps the economy, economists say: Rosengren is the latest in a series of top Fed officials — including Fed Chairman Jerome Powell — to stress the importance of vigorous coronavirus control measures to a full recovery from the pandemic-driven recession.

Read more here

Nearly three dozen health experts object to HHS coronavirus database

The Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is forcing hospitals and states to completely revamp their reporting systems, and will have “serious consequences on data integrity,” a group of more than 30 current and former government health officials warned.

The officials are all current or former members of the Healthcare Infection Control PracticesAdvisory Committee (HICPAC), a federal advisory committee that provides guidance to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In a statement first reported by the New York Times Wednesday, the officials said the administration’s abrupt change in COVID-19 reporting has left hospitals “scrambling to determine how to meet daily reporting requirements.”

Flashback: Last month, the Trump administration abruptly told hospitals to send crucial COVID-19 data to a new online system run by HHS, rather than CDC. The information being reported is supposed to help officials, and the public, track infections in specific areas. But public updates in the past month have been sporadic, and the database has been rife with information that’s missing, incomplete, or just incorrect. 

Read more here.

Texas reaches 500,000 coronavirus cases as infection rate rises 

Texas surpassed 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as the state’s infection rate jumped to its highest point during the pandemic. 

The state’s infection rate has been steadily increasing even though hospitalizations in Texas have dropped more than 30 percent from a high point last month. The seven-day average of positive cases increased to 24 percent to reach Texas’s highest infection rate during the coronavirus crisis, The Associated Press reported

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) attributed the increase in the rate of positive tests to family and neighborhood gatherings, which come as the state and the country are attempting to reopen schools shortly. 

“There’s a reason why this is happening, I believe, and that is some people feel if they’re just with family members” they don’t have to be as careful, Abbott said Tuesday, according to the AP. “And that turns out not to be the case.”

At the same time, the Lone Star state’s daily testing count dropped to less than 30,000 on Tuesday. In mid-to-late July, more than 60,000 tests were conducted per day, which Abbott said occurred because of “surge testing,” according to the AP.  

Read more here.

Rhode Island pushes back school openings by two weeks

Even as President Trump urges schools to reopen, the reality on the ground has often been one of delays and announcements of virtual classes.

Latest example: Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said she will be delaying the reopening of schools by a couple of weeks as plans are made to accommodate for the coronavirus pandemic. 

Raimondo said Wednesday the plan may end up being a hybrid of remote and in-person learning. 

“Just commit yourselves to the children and we’ll figure it out. Today I’m saying give us all another couple of weeks to figure it out,” she said during a briefing

Schools were set to reopen on Aug. 31 but the new reopening date will now be Sept. 14, Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green confirmed to WPRI on Tuesday. 

The commissioner also said in a letter to superintendents that the final announcement of whether it’s safe for districts to reopen in person is expected the week of Aug. 31, rather than Aug. 17, according to the outlet. 

Read more here

What we’re reading

US has averaged over 1,000 coronavirus deaths per day for 16 straight days (CNN)

Companies test antibody drugs to treat, prevent COVID-19 (Associated Press)

Accuracy of U.S. coronavirus data thrown into question as decline in testing skews drop in new cases (CNBC)

The nation wanted to eat out again. Everyone has paid the price (New York Times)

What it’s like to be in a coronavirus vaccine trial (CNBC

State by state

Early evidence indicates mask mandates may be helping limit spread of COVID-19 in Oklahoma (KOCO)

Rural Missouri communities struggle to fight the coronavirus (NPR

California paid a price for mask shortage in dollars and lives, coronavirus study finds (LA Times)

In health-conscious Marin County, virus runs rampant among ‘essential’ latino workers (Kaiser Health News)

Op-eds from The Hill

Who would benefit from a successful Chinese COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID inconsistencies breed fear and spread the virus 

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Mark Meadows Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin
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