Last Thursday, the Biden Administration announced that, through the American Rescue Plan, it would invest “more than $3 billion to accelerate the discovery, development and manufacturing of antiviral medicines as part of the Biden Administration’s whole-of-government strategy to develop the next generation of COVID-19 treatments.” According to the release, the plan “provides more than $300 million for research and lab support, nearly $1 billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation, and nearly $700 million for development and manufacturing through NIAID and BARDA.”
Also on Thursday, President Biden signed into law a bill establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Juneteenth, which falls on June 19 each year, commemorates the day in 1865 in which Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3, officially ending slavery in the state and effectively emancipating the last enslaved African Americans.
In Massachusetts, the debate continues between Governor Charlie Baker and the Legislature on how to use the $5.2 billion in direct American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) aid received earlier this year from the Biden Administration. The House and Senate enacted a proposal that would transfer the money to a new fund and allow the Legislature to appropriate these funds over time, through the more traditional budgeting process. On Thursday, the Governor returned with an amendment, H 3827 which allows some funds to be transferred to this new fund, but spends more than half of the monies immediately, on priorities such as home ownership assistance, substance abuse treatment and job training.
Additionally, 4.1 million Massachusetts residents have received the necessary doses to be considered fully vaccinated as of Saturday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
On Tuesday, the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) held a hearing to examine how the vaccines currently authorized for use, and how they can help end the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.