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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Vaccine Goal Remains Out of Reach
As July 4 approaches, the U.S. seems likely to fall short of President Joe Biden’s goal of having at least 70 percent of American adults receive at least one coronavirus vaccine dose by the holiday. The Kaiser Family Foundation and Stanford released a study that found that at the current vaccination rate, only around 65 percent of those aged 12 and older will have gotten at least one shot by that date. The goal is especially distant for certain groups: At the current rate, the study estimates that Black people still won’t have reached the goal in early September.
According to new data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, young adults are the least likely to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, and their vaccination rates are declining. And in a new poll from the African American Research Collaborative and the Commonwealth Fund, nearly 40 percent of all respondents expressed reluctance for getting a vaccine, and two-thirds reported multiple barriers to getting a shot.
Delta Variant Spreads
Last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the Delta variant will likely become the dominant Covid-19 strain in the United States in the coming months. The variant, which is more transmissible and causes more hospitalizations than previous variants, currently makes up nearly 10 percent of coronavirus cases in the U.S. The uneven vaccination rate, combined with the spread of this variant, means that in some parts of the country, cases are actually rising even as national case counts continue to drop.
Reports About Vaccine Manufacturing Problems
The New York Times reported that Emergent BioSolutions, the company that owns the Baltimore factory where manufacturing mistakes ruined millions of vaccine doses, enjoyed record profits thanks to lucrative government contracts. In May 2020, federal officials booked the Baltimore plant, as well as two other plants with a previous record of quality concerns, to manufacture coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics for periods ranging from three to 20 months, promising Emergent $542 million. Experts who spoke to the Times said it was highly unusual that the government agreed to pay the full estimated cost of manufacturing to Emergent, rather than waiting for the job to be completed.
New Book on Trump Administration’s Covid-19 Response
A new book by Washington Post journalists offers additional information about the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, including that in February 2020 Trump had suggested sending infected Americans to Guantánamo Bay. The book also details clashes among White House officials working on critical issues, as well as the lack of a clear leadership structure and the sidelining of top health officials like Anthony Fauci in favor of political allies without medical expertise.
The Long-Term Impacts of Covid-19 Illness
A new study found that nearly one-quarter of Covid-19 patients sought medical treatment for new conditions a month or more after they had contracted the virus. The study found that these long-term symptoms affected people of all ages, including those who only had mild Covid-19 symptoms or were asymptomatic. Of the nearly 2 million people tracked in the study, more than half had reported no Covid-19 symptoms, and 19 percent of them experienced later medical issues.
New Documents Offer Glimpse into U.S.-China Tensions
New documents obtained by Politico show that in spring 2020, Trump administration officials began a messaging campaign implying that Covid-19 came from a Chinese lab, despite the lack of conclusive evidence supporting that claim. During these early days, Trump and his political allies also often referred to Covid-19 as “the China virus” or “Wuhan virus.” State Department emails from last spring, obtained and published by American Oversight, reveal that a Chinese official had warned that such rhetoric could narrow cooperation between the two countries.
Investigation into Federal Contracts for Masks
The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis’ majority staff released new findings from its investigation into $38.7 million in fraudulent contracts for N95 masks and other supplies. The subcommittee found that Robert Stewart, CEO and owner of Federal Government Experts, made more than 30 false statements to contracting officials in order to obtain federal contracts, securing contracts to supply the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency with N95 masks at inflated prices. VA and FEMA officials also failed to perform sufficient due diligence prior to awarding the contracts. Last week, Stewart was sentenced to 21 months in prison following his conviction for false statements, wire fraud, and theft of government funds.
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