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Congress is set to provide funding the White House says is badly needed for the COVID-19 response.
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Congress to provide $15B in COVID-19 funding
The still unreleased government funding package (coming sometime today) is expected to include about $15 billion in COVID-19 funding.
That is less than the White House’s initial request of about $30 billion, and comes as Republicans had resisted new spending, saying existing state and local funds should be repurposed.
Republicans had balked last week over the administration’s request for $22.5 billion, which Democrats had wanted to be emergency spending, meaning it wouldn’t have to be paid for.
“I think that we ought to determine — and we’ve asked the administration — how much unspent money is there. There are billions of dollars unspent,” Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee said last week.
But lawmakers and two leadership aides told The Hill that they had reached an agreement for the coronavirus funding to be paid for.
Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneCongress nears deal on billions in coronavirus aid Congress faces shutdown crunch time amid Ukraine crisis How Sen. John Thune can rescue the GOP from Trump in 2024 MORE (R-S.D.) pointed to unspent state and local government funds that were included in previous coronavirus relief measures as a source for much of the new money in the omnibus bill.
“I think a lot of it will come from there,” he said while noting that the bill was still being finalized.
WHO recommends COVID-19 boosters in reversal
The World Health Organization (WHO) updated its vaccine guidance on Tuesday to recommend the administration of COVID-19 booster shots, marking a reversal from what the United Nations organization has previously said about additional vaccine doses.
In a statement, the WHO said the Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 Vaccine Composition “strongly supports urgent and broad access to current COVID-19 vaccines for primary series and booster doses, particularly for groups at risk of developing severe disease.”
The WHO has previously spoken out against administering COVID-19 booster shots, arguing that wealthier countries should abstain from administering additional doses while low- and middle-income countries have struggled to provide initial rounds of vaccinations for their populations.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a moratorium on booster shots for healthy adults through the end of 2021.
“We do not want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated,” Tedros said in September.
What’s different: The WHO has also previously recommended prioritizing booster shots for high-risk individuals in countries that have moderate-to-high coverage. However, the newest guidance marks a shift in urgency for the organization, now recommending “broad” access to boosters.
DC DELEGATE: CAPITOL POLICE NOT EXPECTING TRUCK CONVOYS TO CAUSE SECURITY PROBLEMS
U.S. Delegate Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonPhotos of the Week: State of the Union, Ukraine vigil and Batman DC delegate: Possible bill to repeal home rule ‘radical’ and ‘very unexpected’ Black women lawmakers commend Biden on commitment for Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-D.C.) says the trucker convoy circling near Washington, D.C., is not expected to cause security problems or disrupt business.
Norton, a nonvoting delegate in Congress, met with Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger for a briefing on the People’s Convoy, a protest movement against vaccine mandates that began last week and plans to circle D.C. on the Capital Beltway for a third day.
According to Norton, the convoy of roughly 2,000 vehicles includes several hundred trucks, which are circling the capital at about 45 to 55 mph. There are two convoys, one based out of Hagerstown, Md., and the other out of Dominion Raceway, Va.
“Chief Manger told me that he was more worried last week, before the State of the Union, prior to making contact with the convoys, and he currently does not expect either of the groups to cause security problems in the area,” Norton said in a statement. “As the situation could change, I will continue monitoring closely to ensure D.C. residents are kept safe.”
WHO: Ukraine health care facilities attacked
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday said that more than a dozen health care facilities in Ukraine have been attacked in the ongoing Russian invasion of the country.
On its website, the WHO confirmed 16 attacks against health care facilities between Feb. 24, when Russia invaded the country, and March 3, but did not identify the aggressor behind the attacks.
The impact so far: Assaults against those health care facilities have led to at least nine deaths and 16 injuries, according to the WHO.
The organization said on Twitter it was still working to verify more incidents.
“WHO strongly condemns attacks on health care facilities and personnel. Attacks on health care violate [international] law & endanger lives,” the organization wrote on Monday. “Even in times of conflict, we must protect the sanctity & safety of health care, a fundamental human right. Health care is #NotATarget.”
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STUDY: RACIAL PREJUDICE CAN LEAD TO POORER HEALTH OUTCOMES
Living in areas with higher levels of racial prejudice can cause poor health outcomes such as heart disease and mental health problems, according to a new report.
A group of researchers conducted a systemic review of 14 different studies that used data from Google, Twitter and other big-data sources to understand how prejudice and health are intertwined in communities across the country. The study was published by the American Psychological Association.
The results revealed there was an association between levels of racial prejudice in a community and adverse health outcomes for people of color who lived there. Researchers said there are various theories explaining this trend, with one being living in a community with more prejudice could increase the number of prejudiced interactions that a person experiences — causing harmful stress.
That stress can lead to “maladaptive coping behaviors” including poor diet and exercise. Racial discrimination can also cause psychosocial stressors, a situation the creates an unusual or intense level of stress that can contribute to mental disorders and other illnesses — such as going through a divorce or experiencing the death of a child.
Researchers said psychosocial stressors in the context of racial discrimination can lead to increased anger, anxiety and chronic physiological stress adaption — all of which can have negative impacts on the body and undermine health.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Biden seeking more health care for vets exposed to burn pits (AP)
- Synthetic Nicotine Set for FDA Regulation Under Budget Deal (Bloomberg Government)
- Lead from gasoline blunted the IQ of about half the U.S. population, study says (NBC News)
STATE BY STATE
- Maine’s longest-running high-volume vaccination site to shut down (WMTW)
- Sen. King calls for continued domestic production of COVID-19 tests, protective equipment (WABI)
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Tuesday.