American Oversight’s Covid-19 Oversight Hub provides news and policy resources to help you keep track of investigations into the government’s pandemic response. The project brings together a public documents database, an oversight tracker of important ongoing investigations and litigation, regular news updates, and deeper dives into key issues.
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For the first time since June 2020, the U.S. reported fewer than 30,000 new daily coronavirus cases. Nearly 50 percent of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, but the vaccination rate varies widely by region. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that in the last week, the number of daily coronavirus vaccinations dropped almost 50 percent from its April peak, when more than 3 million vaccine doses were administered every day.
Last week, the House Oversight Committee and the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released initial findings from their ongoing investigation into Emergent BioSolutions, the company that owns the Baltimore factory where millions of vaccine doses were contaminated in March. The committees found that Emergent’s executives received millions in raises and bonuses in February 2021, despite the company having ruined yet more millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines in previous months and despite its failure to address long-standing deficiencies at that same facility. The report also noted that Johnson & Johnson was aware of possible issues at the Baltimore plant, and had noted in June 2020 that contamination-control measures were “deficient.”
When speaking to the subcommittee, Emergent CEO Robert Kramer stated that the company had “made significant progress” on improving production conditions and expected to resume production soon. For the last two weeks, states have not received any supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Since the most recent contamination at the Baltimore plant, Food and Drug Administration inspectors have placed about 70 million more doses on hold.
American Oversight published communications from the early weeks of the pandemic in which prominent television hosts Dr. Mehmet Oz and Laura Ingraham requested favors or information about hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug President Donald Trump had promoted as a Covid-19 treatment. The emails, which were also reported on by Endpoint News, showed top federal officials communicating with these media personalities and tracking stories about the lack of evidence of the drug’s coronavirus-related benefits.
In recent weeks, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has taken steps to reshape the agency. The changes include creating a clear reporting chain from the CDC’s vaccine task force up to Walensky, as the task force had previously reported to both the CDC director and the White House. As these changes were made, Nancy Messonnier, the CDC’s vaccine task force leader, resigned, and Anne Schuchat, the agency’s principal deputy director, announced her retirement.
Walensky’s changes and recent CDC decisions are seen as reinforcing the agency’s independence from the White House. According to Politico, senior White House officials were not informed about the recent change in mask-wearing guidelines for vaccinated people until the morning of the announcement.
The Government Accountability Office analyzed the coronavirus’ impact on 13,380 U.S. nursing homes (out of the roughly 15,000 in the country) and found that 94 percent of these facilities suffered more than one Covid-19 outbreak. About 85 percent of facilities faced outbreaks that stretched for five weeks or longer, and facilities with outbreaks lasting at least five weeks recorded 56 Covid-19 cases on average. To date, Covid-19 has killed more than 132,000 nursing home residents.