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 Demand Slows
Last week, President Joe Biden announced that 200 million Covid-19 vaccine shots have been administered since he took office. But during this same week, daily vaccinations declined across the U.S. for the first time since February, reflecting that demand is softening. Vaccine hesitancy remains a problem: in data recently collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 20 percent of Americans said they will definitely not get the vaccine or will only if it’s required. More than 40 percent of Republicans remain opposed to getting their shot.
Scientific studies have continued proving vaccine efficacy. A preliminary study found no evidence to suggest that the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are unsafe for those who are pregnant, and on Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that pregnant people get vaccinated. The CDC’s advisory committee also recommended lifting the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, leading to multiple states reopening appointments for this vaccine this week.
How ICE Enabled the Pandemic’s Spread
A new investigation by the New York Times found that Covid-19 outbreaks in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facilities impacted those on the outside, with an analysis showing that each of 10 large outbreaks in ICE detention centers were followed by coronavirus outbreaks in the surrounding communities. Although staff are most likely to transmit the virus outside facilities, ICE has refused to disclose data about coronavirus infections among staff. ICE policies have also enabled spread, as detained individuals were denied access to sufficient personal protective equipment and not tested even when they displayed symptoms.
American Oversight obtained documents which show the Treasury Department’s close ties to the private sector as the pandemic became a global crisis in spring 2020. In March 2020, top Treasury officials held meetings with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company to “talk about real economy effects of covid19.” Also in March, officials from multiple cruise lines attempted to set up a meeting with then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss, “adverse actions […] which could irreparably harm the cruise industry.”
Where is the Money?
NBC News tracked down ApiJect Systems, a Connecticut-based company that was awarded more than $1 billion in federal money to supply syringes for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Their investigation found that more than a year later, no syringes have been made, and the company hasn’t built a factory it said would create 650 jobs.
GAO Report: Chaos in Early Repatriation Efforts
The Government Accountability Office assessed the federal government’s efforts to repatriate U.S. citizens who were abroad when the pandemic struck in early 2020, and found that the chaotic evacuations put evacuees and American communities at risk. The GAO noted that there were multiple coordination issues among the Department of Health and Human Services’ component agencies and that HHS inconsistently used personal protective equipment. One HHS official even directed personnel to remove their PPE to avoid “bad optics.”
American Oversight previously obtained documents that demonstrate the confusion these missions created. On January 30, 2020, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Ken Rapuano wrote to Assistant HHS Secretary Robert Kadlec about the coronavirus response: “I’m receiving multiple feeds and they’re not all consistent… State is looking to move 700+ all at the same time. That was a shocker and one that we had not anticipated. My team is working… true to my promise to your team to avoid or not involve your department.”
Part of Investigation: