Overnight Health Care: CDC says it is safe for vaccinated people to unmask outdoors | White House: No decision yet on vaccine patent waiver | GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated

Overnight Health Care: CDC says it is safe for vaccinated people to unmask outdoors | White House: No decision yet on vaccine patent waiver | GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care. Tomorrow is President BidenJoe BidenMellman: Trump voters cling to 2020 tale FDA authorizes another batch of J&J vaccine Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE's address to a joint session of Congress. But because of COVID, there will be a number of restrictions, including on attendance. Undaunted, lawmakers have started announcing their "virtual guests" to the speech. 

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Today: The CDC updated guidance on mask wearing, though states are moving at their own pace. GOP doctors in Congress made a vaccination PSA, the Biden administration will vastly expand buprenorphine prescribing, and the White House says they have yet to make a decision on vaccine patent waivers. 

We'll start with masks:

CDC says it is safe for vaccinated people to unmask outdoors

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is safe for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be outside without a mask, but essentially only in small groups.

The guidance, which CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyStudy: Older Americans saw larger declines in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths after vaccine became available Overnight Health Care: Biden 'very confident' in Fauci amid conservative attacks | House Dems press Biden on global vaccinations | CDC director urges parents to vaccinate adolescents New York plans to loosen school mask rules as soon as Monday MORE outlined during a White House press conference Tuesday, builds on previous updates from the agency about the activities people can feel comfortable with once fully vaccinated.

"Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before. Over the past year, we have spent a lot of time telling Americans what they cannot do, what they should not do,” Walensky said. “Today, I’m going to tell you some of the things you can do if you are fully vaccinated.”

People who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — two weeks past the second shot of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, or the only dose of Johnson & Johnson— no longer need to wear masks outdoors if they’re walking, running, hiking or biking, either alone or with members of their household, and in small outdoor gatherings.


Simple, but effective: The message was echoed by President Biden in remarks outside the White House. "If you are vaccinated, you can do more things," he said. Biden has set a July 4th target for a return to normalcy, and his remarks and the CDC guidance are aimed at showing the benefits when people get vaccinated.

Masks still needed: Even vaccinated people should wear a mask when outdoors in a crowded public space like a concert or stadium, indoors in public spaces like a mall, houses of worship, or even a small indoor gathering with a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the CDC said. Infections are decreasing, but still averaging more than 50,000 a day, and more than half the population still needs to be vaccinated. 

Outdoors safer: There is very little evidence, if any, of viral transmission outside, particularly when individuals are socially distanced. Experts have increasingly questioned the need for mask use outdoors given the rising percentage of Americans who are vaccinated against the virus. While the guidance was applauded by some public health experts, others think the agency could have gone even further.

Read more here.

States respond: While almost every state during the peak months of the pandemic imposed some sort of public mask mandate, some went even further, and told residents to wear masks every time they left the house, regardless of if they were outdoors, indoors, alone or with others. 

Public health experts have criticized such strict mandates, but Walensky stopped short of calling for states to end them. She said she was concerned about protecting unvaccinated people at large, crowded events. Without being able to differentiate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated, blanket mandates seem to be the best solution available.

After the CDC's announcement, Massachusetts and Maine said they were lifting outdoor mandates entirely, while New York and California said they were adopting the CDC guidance. 

White House: No decision yet on vaccine patent waiver

The White House, under pressure from progressives in Congress, has for weeks been declining to outline its position on a patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines that backers say would boost global access. 

But White House Press Secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiLawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin Fox's John Roberts says for media, no Biden-Putin presser is a loss Harris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety, efficacy in SC event to kick off tour MORE elaborated more than usual on Tuesday on the considerations the administration is weighing. 

"Our focus is on maximizing production and supply for the world at the lowest possible cost and there are a lot of different ways to do that," she said.

"That's one of the ways," Psaki added, referring to the waiver. "But we have to assess what makes the most sense."

She pointed to the strong manufacturing capabilities for vaccines already in the United States.

"We have to evaluate whether it's more effective to manufacture here and provide supply to the world or the [intellectual property] waiver is an option," she said. "There has not been a recommendation made from the [U.S. Trade Representative] nor has the president made a decision."


Read more here

GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated

Amid concerns about vaccine hesitancy from Republicans, some GOP doctors in Congress took matters into their own hands on Tuesday by releasing a video urging people to get the shot. 

The video, led by Sen. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallRepublicans grill Biden public lands agency pick over finances, advocacy Senate passes resolution urging probe into COVID-19 origins Republicans seek vindication amid reemergence of Wuhan lab theory MORE (R-Kan.), a doctor, features some of the lawmakers wearing white coats with stethoscopes around their necks speaking into the camera. 

“This vaccine is safe,” says Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonOvernight Health Care: CDC says it is safe for vaccinated people to unmask outdoors | White House: No decision yet on vaccine patent waiver | GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated Lawmakers emphasize prioritizing patients' needs in health care policy MORE (R-Ind.), a heart surgeon.

GOP-tailored messages: Some of the messages point to the greater freedom that people can have once they are inoculated. 

Bucshon says the way “to end the government's restrictions on our freedoms is to take action and get the vaccine.”


Rep. John JoyceJohn JoyceOvernight Health Care: CDC says it is safe for vaccinated people to unmask outdoors | White House: No decision yet on vaccine patent waiver | GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated GOP doctors in Congress release video urging people to get vaccinated Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (R-Pa.) pointed to the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, which developed the vaccines but has become a phrase the Biden administration has stopped using. 

Read more here

Biden administration loosens restrictions on meds for opioid use disorder amid rise in deaths

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday released federal guidelines that allow more providers to prescribe buprenorphine and nix the eight-hour training requirement to prescribe the drug. 

Under the new guidelines, qualified physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives are exempt from undergoing training to treat up to 30 patients with buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is one of three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for addressing opioid use disorder. It is intended to help reduce cravings, limit or eliminate withdrawal symptoms and, according to clinical trials, decrease the risk of overdose deaths.

Why this matters: For years, experts have said that the “X-waiver” needed to prescribe the drug creates an unnecessary hurdle to treating opioid addiction.  


A 2019 survey found only 18 percent of the 1.6 million with opioid use disorder received medication assisted treatment. 

“These new guidelines are an important step in the right direction and will ultimately save lives and help more people find recovery,” Tom Coderre, the acting assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, said.

Follows: In the most recent data released, drug overdose deaths reached a record-high for the 12-month period ending in September with more than 97,000 fatalities.

Read more here

Spotify's Joe Rogan says 'healthy' young people don't need to worry about getting COVID-19 vaccine

Countering health experts’ recommendations, Spotify podcast host Joe Rogan said last week that “healthy” young people don’t need to worry about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

On his show “The Joe Rogan Experience,” the most popular podcast host in the world urged people to get vaccinated only “if you’re vulnerable,” saying he thinks “for the most part it’s safe.” But Rogan said if a 21-year-old asks him if they should get the vaccine, “I’ll go, ‘No.’”

“Are you healthy?” he said in his April 23 podcast. “Are you a healthy person? Like, look, don't do anything stupid, but you should take care of yourself. You should – if you're a healthy person, and you're exercising all the time, and you're young, and you’re eating well, like, I don't think you need to worry about this.”

Rogan’s advice is not based on science. It directly contradicts health experts, who have called on all people above age 16 to get the vaccine to curb the spread of the virus across the U.S., especially among vulnerable populations. Unvaccinated people can also put others at risk by spreading the disease.

His remarks come as the U.S. faces a tipping point in its vaccination effort between enthusiastic Americans who have already gotten inoculated versus those who are more hesitant, or don’t have access to the shot. 

While young people have lower death rates than older adults, more young people have been hospitalized recently as variants spread across the U.S. According to the CDC, more than 400 children have died from the virus. 

Read more here.

What we’re reading

Medical supplies flow into India as COVID-19 deaths near 200,000 (Reuters)

Big investors push nursing homes to upgrade care and working conditions (Kaiser Health News)

Part victory lap, part sales job: Biden to address joint session of Congress (New York Times)

State by state

R.I. vaccine subcommittee was ‘blindsided’ by news of state lifting pause on Johnson & Johnson shot (Boston Globe)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs bill that seeks to address racial disparities in health care (Chicago Tribune)

Tony EversTony EversWisconsin GOP spent more than M on lawsuits since 2018: report Wisconsin Senate passes bill prohibiting police chokeholds Wisconsin governor announces reelection bid MORE signs bill allowing worker's compensation for emergency responders suffering from PTSD (Wisconsin State Journal)