A 17-member group of public health experts, infectious disease specialists, and others were officially appointed to advise Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on distribution for a COVID-19 vaccine. The group, which will also advise the state’s Department of Public Health and COVID-19 Command Center, “will help inform the planning and preparedness work already underway and further strengthen efforts to successfully and equitably allocate, distribute and administer a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.”
In Federal news, President Trump signed an executive order on Monday to address and support mental and behavioral health, with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. The order establishes a Coronavirus Mental Health Working Group and grants funding for states and organizations that permit in-person treatment and recovery support activities for mental and behavioral health.
On Tuesday, President Trump announced that he was halting all negotiations with Democrats over additional COVID-19 relief until after the election. He followed up stating that he would authorize a standalone bill for $1200 stimulus checks and urged Congress to “immediately approve $25 billion for airlines and $135 billion the Paycheck Protection Program to help small businesses.” It was later announced on Friday that the White House was preparing to offer a new $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief package. Additionally, the FDA announced on Wednesday that it will no longer review Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) submissions for lab-developed COVID-19 tests. The FDA will continue to prioritize review of EUA submissions for “point-of-care tests, home collection tests, at-home tests, tests that reduce reliance on certain types of test supplies, and high-throughput, widely distributed tests.”
The Baker Administration is required to determine by Thursday, October 15 if they will revisit the state budget’s consensus revenue estimate. It was initially expected that Massachusetts would collect $31.151 billion in tax revenue this fiscal year, however the Department of Revenue now expects FY2021 tax revenues to be between $25.918 billion and $28.387 billion. Also in Massachusetts, early voting begins October 17 and will run through October 30.
Nomination hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, began on Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hearings are expected to continue through Thursday.