Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. A new phrase for cohorting classes to help reduce the risk of COVID-19: “The full Harry Potter” (i.e. you stay in your assigned house). Via Caitlin Rivers from Johns Hopkins on Twitter.
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Today: CDC says vaccinated people can travel, but isn’t really encouraging anyone to right now. President BidenJoe BidenFederal Reserve chair: Economy would have been ‘so much worse’ without COVID-19 relief bills Biden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Jill Biden gives shout out to Champ, Major on National Pet Day MORE is urging people not to let down their guard. And Republicans are starting to move against vaccine passports.
We’ll start with CDC guidance:
CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely travel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in new guidance on Friday that fully vaccinated people can safely travel.
The agency further said fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before or after domestic travel unless the destination requires it. People should still wear a mask while they travel, the agency said, and people should get tested three to five days after international travel, given the increased risk of virus variants internationally.
Unvaccinated people are still advised not to travel, the CDC said.
But the CDC director also issued a general warning on travel: At the same time as the agency issued the guidance, CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyWashington state lawmakers push to provide lawyers for residents facing eviction Would closing the borders limit deadly foreign strains of COVID-19? Overnight Health Care: White House rebuffs call to send more vaccine doses to certain states | White House warns states to expect low weekly J&J vaccine shipments MORE still sounded a cautionary note about travel overall at a White House press briefing on Friday.
“We know that right now we have a surging number of cases,” she said when asked to clarify whether the agency was still calling on vaccinated people to avoid travel that is not essential. “I would advocate against general travel overall. Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so. If you are vaccinated it is lower risk.”
Read more here.
But Biden says don’t let down your guard. He bemoaned too many acting as if COVID-19 fight over: ‘It is not’
President Biden on Friday cautioned Americans against letting their guard down against the coronavirus pandemic, warning that the country’s progress against COVID-19 could be lost if people aren’t vigilant.
“Too many Americans are acting as if this fight is over. It is not,” Biden said during remarks on the March jobs report.
Biden’s timeline: “I’ve told people that if my administration did the hard work of getting shots to all Americans in the next few months, if the American people continued to do their part — mask up, practice social distancing — we could have a more normal July 4th,” he continued. “But this is still April, not July. We aren’t there yet. And so cases are going up again. The virus is spreading more rapidly in many places. Deaths are going up in some states.”
“So I ask, I plead with you: Don’t give back the progress we’ve all fought so hard to achieve. We need to finish this job,” the president added.
Big picture: Administration officials have sought to balance optimism about the increasing number of vaccinated Americans with the reality of rising case numbers as states loosen restrictions on businesses and as more contagious variants spread.
Read more here.
Will vaccine passports be the biggest campaign issue of 2022?
Partisan battle lines are being drawn around coronavirus vaccine passports in what could become one of the defining issues of the 2022 midterm elections.
A growing number of the Republican Party’s most conservative members have seized on the passport proposals and expected guidance from the White House, blasting them as an example of government overreach that would isolate Americans who choose not to get vaccinated and violate the privacy of those who do.
The strategy could backfire: But that strategy carries some risks for the GOP, potentially giving Democrats a platform to tout their response to the coronavirus outbreak while simultaneously forcing Republicans to navigate the politics of the pandemic well into 2022.
“It’s red meat for the base, sure, but this doesn’t help us win back the middle,” one veteran GOP campaign aide said. “It’s just more of the culture wars … and it also means talking about COVID instead of the damage being done by Democrats.”
An example of Republican criticism: Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’s meeting with Trump ‘soon’ in Florida QAnon site shutters after reports identifying developer Republicans head to runoff in GA-14 MORE (R-Ga.), the controversial congresswoman whose conspiratorial remarks have drawn criticism even from some in her own party, this week dubbed the passports President Biden’s “mark of the beast” and called the proposal a form of “corporate communism.”
Read more here.
Speaking of which, a sign of the GOP backlash: DeSantis issues executive order banning vaccine passports
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida newspaper blasts DeSantis’s ban on COVID-19 passports: ‘Makes no sense’ Buttigieg hopes cruises will return by mid-summer The Hill’s 12:30 Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – World mourns the death of Prince Philip MORE (R) issued an executive order on Friday banning “vaccine passports” that require people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
“Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports,” DeSantis announced on Twitter. “The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon.”
What it does: The order prevents government entities from issuing “vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual’s COVID-19 vaccine status to a third party.”
It also prohibits businesses in the state from requiring customers or patrons to provide documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or “post-transmission recovery” to receive services. Businesses can still institute COVID-19 screening protocols.
Read more here.
Johnson & Johnson expands COVID vaccine trial to include adolescents
Johnson & Johnson is expanding its coronavirus vaccine trials to include adolescents as young as 12 years old, the company said Friday.
The phase 2a trial began in September and was initially designed to study single-dose and two-dose regimens of the vaccine in healthy adults aged 18 to 55 years, as well as adults 65 and older. The study is now including children ages 12 to 17.
The goal: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on adolescents, not just with the complications of the disease, but with their education, mental health, and wellbeing,” Paul Stoffels, the company’s chief scientific officer, said in a statement. “It is vital that we develop vaccines for everyone, everywhere, to help combat the spread of the virus with the goal to return to everyday life.”
Next steps: The vaccine will initially be tested in a small number of adolescents ages 16 and 17. Following the review of initial data, the company said the study will be expanded to a larger group of younger adolescents in a “stepwise approach,” meaning progressively younger groups.
Read more here.
What we’re reading
Former Biden, Trump advisers renew push to delay second Covid vaccine (Stat News)
There’s a new lawsuit attacking Obamacare — and it’s a serious threat (Vox.com)
Vaccine ‘Fiasco’ Damages Europe’s Credibility (New York Times)
State by state
Giant holds off on ordering vaccine as D.C. residents cancel appointments (Washington Post)
North Carolina, for the first time, reports no ‘red’ counties (News & Observer)
Fourth Wave? These Statistics Show the Rise in COVID Cases in Massachusetts (NBC Boston)