In January 2021, ex-POLITICO reporters Jake Sherman, Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan launched their new media venture Punchbowl. The new media outlet is “focused on the several dozen people who have power in Washington, and exercise it, how they exercise it and why.” The trio chose the name Punchbowl because it is the Secret Service codename for the U.S. Capitol, and reflects their focus on the main levers of power in Washington.
It is in this spirit that we have decided to change the name of our weekly “insider only” newsletter from Policy News from Goodfuse to Cement Mixer from Goodfuse, with Cement Mixer being the Secret Service codename for the White House Situation Room. The name change reflects our aspirations to one day move into broadcast news and take over Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room on CNN. For more on this name change, please read to the very end of this week’s newsletter excerpt.
“Right now I’m scared”
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued an emotional plea to Americans this week to follow public health precautions just a little bit longer as cases of COVID-19 appeared to be on the verge of another spike. (STAT, The Hill) The plea comes as several states continue to lift mask mandates and relax other public health measures put in place to combat the spread of the pandemic. Following Dr. Walensky’s appeal, President Biden implored states to follow federal guidance and reconsider their rollbacks of restrictions related to COVID-19. (POLITICO, The Hill)
The race to herd immunity
The Biden administration will scale back efforts to vaccinate Americans at large mega-sites after data showed Americans prefer to get their jabs at small retail pharmacies. (POLITICO) This news comes as President Biden announced “90 percent of U.S. adults will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine and will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live by April 19.” (The Hill) To further build America’s confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines, the Biden administration also announced the “COVID-19 Community Corps” network of volunteer health experts and community leaders who will help combat vaccine hesitancy in their communities. (POLITICO, The Hill)
The patent protection predicament
A spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative confirmed that the Biden administration is exploring the possibility of weakening patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines as a means of expanding access. About 100 countries led by India and South Africa are asking the World Trade Organization to temporarily suspend patent protections. PhRMA and BIO have vigorously opposed any measure that would impact vaccine patent protections. (Axios)
Behind the scenes at the Trump administration
This week new details and accusations emerged regarding the conduct of former Trump administration officials who were responsible for coordinating the country’s response to COVID-19. First, former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told an interviewer he was pressured by former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to revise data reports on COVID-19. (The Hill) Then on Wednesday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released documents showing senior officials, including former trade advisor Peter Navarro, sounded an early alarm bell in March 2020 when COVID-19 in the United States was limited to a few isolated cases. Senior officials like Navarro then pushed federal agencies to offer non-competitive contracts to preferred companies to produce personal protective equipment. (POLITICO, The Hill)
If you enjoyed this excerpt from this week’s Cement Mixer from Goodfuse, we invite you to email us at YourTeam@goodfuse.com to sign up for the full weekly “insider only” newsletter featuring fun-to-read round-ups of Hot Topics, breaking news and some quirky facts to make your Fridays Goodfused.
P.S. – April Fool’s! Our newsletter will continue to be published under the name Policy News from Goodfuse starting next week.