Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines from Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs practice.
- The Trump administration will no longer hold back the second dose of a coronavirus vaccine in order to speed up inoculations. The changes are a departure from current policy and align with a plan unveiled by President-elect Joe Biden this week. The Trump administration has been holding back half of the available doses to ensure there is enough supply for everyone who is getting a first dose to get a second dose later as well. On Tuesday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told ABC that the new policy is effective immediately. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 25.5 million doses have been distributed. The move will effectively double that amount.
- Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) have become the latest of three Democratic lawmakers that have tested positive for COVID-19 after being forced to stay in a room with Republicans that refused to wear masks during last week’s attack on the Capitol. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ) tested positive yesterday. “Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” Schneider said.
- The CDC is issued new guidelines requiring all international passengers boarding U.S.-bound flights to get a negative COVID-19 test before flying. The order will go into effect as soon as January 26. Some airlines argue that testing requirements to fly should replace quarantine waits and travel bans.
- Small Business Administration Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware urged the agency to identify loans that had not been disbursed and to stop $280 million in potentially improper payments. In a new managing alert andreport, the inspector general warned that $3.6 billion in payroll support loans may have gone to ineligible employers in 2020.
- The Trump administration says it will provide the Biden transition access to meetings regarding the government's coronavirus vaccine development efforts. These will be the first meetings the administration will be allowed to attend since winning the election in November. Previously the administration denied access to any standing meetings on the pandemic, which has hampered planning for the transition.
- On Monday, the federal government released an updated set of detailed hospital-level data showing the toll COVID-19 is taking on health care facilities, including how many inpatient and ICU beds are available on a weekly basis. The data is modeled on the University of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project.
- House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry(R-NC), and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Andy Barr (KY), issued a Republican staff report on cybersecurity in the COVID-19 era. The report found that the coronavirus pandemic and related relief programs created an environment ripe for cybercriminal activity, which threatens our financial system and American consumers.
In the News:
- Zoom said on Tuesday that it plans to raise $1.5 billion in a secondary stock offering, valuing its stock 10 times above where it debuted in 2019. The video chat company, which has been a major beneficiary of the remote work boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, is assuming a share price of $337.71, based on Monday’s close. Zoom is taking advantage of a surge in investor interest after the stock quintupled in value last year.
- A federal judge in Washington has halted two of the few remaining federal executions set to take place during the Trump administration after both death-row inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Johnson and Higgs argued that lung damage from the coronavirus would make their lethal injections so painful they would violate the Constitution’s bar on cruel and unusual punishment.
- A slower-than-expected rollout of the coronavirus vaccine could have a domino effect on the 2021 movie slate, with possibly devastating effects on the industry. Movie theater operators and studios were banking on moviegoers returning to theaters post-inoculation. But now, media and entertainment equity researchers at MKM Partner believe continuing release date pushbacks are inevitable and forecasts that the first-quarter box office will fall more than 90 percent from last year.
- Indiana and Minnesota join the list of 10 states where health officials have confirmed cases of the variant B.1.1.7 coronavirus strain, first identified in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the CDC says there is no evidence that the massive winter surge that is killing thousands of people a day in the United States is linked to the U.K. variant or a homegrown strain. But experts acknowledge that that does not eliminate the possibility. Many states have minimal capacity to conduct the necessary testing to trace the random mutations that could give a virus variant some advantage over other strains.