April 09, 2021

COVID-19 Weekly Newsletter: Vaccine Progress Continues in U.S.

With a vaccination rate of 49 doses administered per 100 people, the United States has administered a higher number of vaccines than any country in the world. As the federal government looks to keep the vaccine rollout moving, public health authorities have confirmed that the more contagious strain of the virus originally observed in the U.K. has become the most prevalent form of COVID-19 in the U.S., and hospitals have noted a rise in younger patients with more severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Biden Moves Up the Date for Adults To Be Eligible for Vaccination

On April 6, President Biden announced that states should make all adults eligible for vaccination by April 19, as opposed to the original deadline of May 1. The United States has vaccinated 40% of adults, with 23% of adults being fully vaccinated. The U.S. has administered a higher number of vaccines than any country in the world, and currently has a vaccination rate of 49 doses administered per 100 people. Officials predict vaccine supply will exceed demand by mid-May.

President Biden’s FY22 Budget Request Released

On April 9 President Biden released his $1.5 trillion FY22 Budget Request, which includes increases in funding to various agencies to boost the economy and invest in pandemic response. Marked increases in the proposed budget to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are aimed at tackling the ongoing opioid epidemic (which was worsened during the pandemic) and addressing infectious disease control and preparedness needs made apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, $6.5 billion was requested for the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (APRA-H), that would spearhead research initiatives. The Biden administration proposed a 14% increase to the overall budget of the Department of Labor to address staffing reductions, ensure worker protections, improve states ability to handle unemployment claims and much more.

U.K. B1.1.7 Variant Now Dominant Strain in the United States

On April 7, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rachelle Walensky noted the highly contagious U.K. COVID-19 variant is the most common strain circulating in the United States, accounting for 27% of cases. February reports from Italy and Israel showed that emergence of the B1.1.7 strain caused a high proportion of new cases accounted for by children. Earlier this week, Science published research noting that children are more likely to be infected with B1.1.7 than previous strains.

Five States Account for Nearly Half of New U.S. COVID-19 Infections in the U.S.

Though New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey account for 22% of the U.S. population, together they reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections.

Hospitals Note Rise in Younger, Sicker COVID-19 Patients

Recently, hospital systems have noticed a higher number of younger patients being hospitalized with severe COVID-19 symptoms. Health officials speculate this uptick may be due to various factors: many are ineligible to get vaccinated, the circulation of a deadlier variant, and people are becoming more comfortable relaxing precautions. Many hope expanding the eligibility for vaccination will help curb the potential of another wave.

Cruise Industry May Resume Sailing This Summer

While some cruise ships are already sailing in other countries, and others planned to start in soon, cruises are still not permitted to sail from U.S. ports. The CDC issued a ban on cruises in March 2020 and which was lifted in October 2020 and replaced with a conditional order outlining the steps and processes cruise lines to resume sailing. While the CDC has indicated that U.S. cruises could resume by mid-summer with restrictions, Florida Governor DeSantis announced that Florida has filed a lawsuit against the federal government to allow cruises from U.S. ports to resume with appropriate safety protocols in place. Cruise lines have provided some information on their planned policies and procedures, which include mandating a fully vaccinated crew and staff, vaccination requirements for all passengers 18 and over, testing of passengers and traceability protocols.

Playing Sports After Surviving COVID-19 May Be Safe

Concerns over cardiac sequelae after surviving COVID-19 prompted a study of professional athletes. Fortunately, the incidence of heart trouble was relatively low, so returning to sports seems safe.

Layered Protection Measures Recommended for Restaurants and Bars

As restaurants are re-opening, experts are reminding patrons and hosts that hand hygiene, masking, improved ventilation, and physical distancing all contribute to protection against possible COVID-19 outbreaks. Studies show that ignoring public health recommendations unfortunately leads to local COVID-19 outbreaks. The layered approach to protection is needed because no single measure is a “silver bullet” that could work alone or guarantee full protection in all circumstances. The multiplicity of defense barriers increases the effectiveness of routine precautions. As an added bonus, these measures can help protect against SARS-CoV-2 exposure and reduce the risks of catching other respiratory viruses.

ASV Townhall Meetings Discuss Vaccines

The American Society for Virology is holding free online townhall meetings, during which leading academic virologists answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

Evidence Continues to Mount for SARS-CoV-2 Airborne Transmission and Infection

A recently published case study demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted by air and cause infection in bystanders as far as 50 feet away from the original infectious source in a closed space (such as a church). That publication added to the growing body of evidence that SARS-CoV-2 transmission through droplets and aerosols is the most important of the possible routes of infection. For this reason, CDC just updated its guidance indicating that masking and hand-washing (by the individuals) along with improved room ventilation and arranging for physical distancing (by the facilities managers) should be given priority over frequent heavy-duty disinfection of surfaces

More COVID-19 Insights

Corporate

COVID-19 Task Force

Finance & Restructuring

Product Liability & Mass Torts

Additional Resources

Global COVID-19-Related Patent Office Status and Deadline Extension Updates
Information regarding the status of each foreign patent office and the availability of extensions of time in each jurisdiction.

Government Actions: COVID-19
Tracking executive orders, legislation, and other government actions related to COVID-19 by state and major locality across the U.S.

Tracking Fraud Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Tracking federal and state law enforcement and regulatory actions taken against bad actors who have exploited the COVID-19 emergency to defraud consumers and payers.

Faegre Drinker’s Coronavirus Resource Center is available to help you understand and assess the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of COVID-19.

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