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COVID-19 Weekly Recap

Historic $2 Trillion COVID-19 Bill Signed Into Law

President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act into law after it passed the House Friday.

 

What does it mean for Americans?

  • Insurance Coverage: All private insurance plans are required to cover COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, and testing, expanding the requirements CMS already had in place.
  • Public Health: Here’s how the funds will be distributed to support public health.
    • $100 billion for hospitals
    • $1.32 billion for community health centers
    • $11 billion for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines
    • $80 million for the FDA to prioritize and expedite the approval of new drugs for COVID-19
    • $4.3 billion for CDC response efforts
    • $20 billion for veterans’ health care
  • $16 billion to increase equipment including ventilators and masks
  • Individuals making less than $75,000 will receive $1,200. Individuals making under $99,000 will receive less, and families will receive an additional $500 per child.
  • Additional Unemployment Benefits: This bill adds $600 per week from the federal government on top of state payments, lasting four months. It also adds 13 weeks of additional unemployment insurance.
  • Gig workers: Creates the temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
  • Small businesses: This bill provides $10 billion in grants up to $10,000 each for emergency funds. $350 billion is allocated to provide loans of up to $10 million each with opportunities for loan forgiveness if employers keep employees through the end of June.
  • Large corporations: The bill allocates $500 billion in loans and other money for big corporations, subject to public disclosures
  • State and local governments will receive $339.8 billion.
  • The bill gives $8.8 billion to enable schools to have more flexibility to provide meals for students, and allocates $15.5 billion to SNAP. Additionally, $450 million will go to food banks and community distribution programs.

The bill pauses student loan repayment through September 30 for all federal loans.

COVID-19 By The Numbers in the U.S.

(Credit: CDC Updated April 1st, 2020)

President Trump Wants America to Reopen

President Trump held a press conference with the White House COVID-19 Task Force last week, where he emphasized the desire to reopen America while continuing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are more key points:

  • President Trump shared that some states that have been hit the hardest have and will receive additional aid from the federal government, including access to the National Guard and other resources from FEMA in New York, Washington, and California.
  • The task force will reevaluate the efficacy of the 15-day guidelines Pres. Trump put forth. The administration will determine how effective social distancing and other actions to mitigate the spread have been, and where the number of cases in the country stand at that moment. President Trump said they will look into the possibility of reopening the country or continuing with virus-mitigation measures for the time being.
  • President Trump anticipates easing guidelines in weeks rather than months as previously slated, saying “We are not going to let the cure be worst than the problem”. He said the country will open again “sooner than perhaps expected”.
  • It’s important to note that while the president emphasized cancelling the shutdown, he also said that it will be up to state governors and other state officials to update guidelines and plans to address strategies and impact within each state.
  • Dr. Birx, an infectious disease control expert on the White House Task Force addressing COVID-19 said that because the spread was ahead in some states, the timeline will vary state-by-state.
  • President Trump said that clinical trials are taking place to test possible treatments.
  • According to CDC.gov, as of April 1st, there are 186,101 cases and 3,603 deaths from COVID-19 in the United States.

CCCC Signs on to I Am Essential Letter to Congress to Make Medications More Accessible

Joining over 200 other signatories, our partner organization, the California Chronic Care Coalition (CCCC) signed on to a patient community letter to Congress, requesting legislative action to make medications more accessible during this public health crisis. The CDC recommends people to stock up on their prescriptions, but often insurance can limit an individual’s ability to do so. The CCCC and other patient advocacy groups request that access to medications are expanded for people with underlying conditions during this unprecedented crisis.

My Patient Rights Launches State-by-State COVID-19 Resources

My Patient Rights has launched a nationwide resource center for health consumers to get the information they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit MyPatientRights.org/COVID-19-Resources to get the latest news from your state’s public health officials.

Biopharmaceutical Industry Works to Develop Solutions for COVID-19

  • The FDA has approved a 45-minute COVID-19 test developed by Cepheid to be utilized in emergency, inpatient settings. This marks a milestone in testing response time and can help hospitals and health care systems appropriately and rapidly assign resources and rapidly aid COVID-19 patients.
  • Gilead is working on clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy and safety of remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, and is ramping up production in anticipation of future need.
  • Bayer has donated 3 million tablets of Resochin (chloroquine phosphate) to the U.S. government for potential use in treating COVID-19, based upon recent anecdotal evidence. The CDC currently states it is an investigational therapy best suited for the clinical trial setting.

Use this graphic to find out more on what biopharmaceutical companies are doing to help. 

Pfizer Announces Collaboration with BioNTech to Develop and Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech announced intent to collaborate on the development and distribution of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. This news came days after Pfizer called for the biopharmaceutical industry to join the company in greater collaboration efforts to combat COVID-19. Clinical testing is expected to begin by the end of April 2020. Of the partnership, Mikael Dolsten, Chief Scientific Officer and President, Worldwide Research, Development & Medical, Pfizer, said “We believe that by pairing Pfizer’s development, regulatory and commercial capabilities with BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine technology and expertise as one of the industry leaders, we are reinforcing our commitment to do everything we can to combat this escalating pandemic, as quickly as possible.”

Pfizer’s five-point plan includes promises from Pfizer to share tools and insight, offer their manufacturing capabilities, applying drug development expertise. You can read more about the five-point plan here.