On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its national distribution plan for the Abbott BinaxNOW Ag Card rapid test. According to the release, “BinaxNOW is a unique testing option to provide support to K-12 teachers and students, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and other priorities as governors deem fit.” This distribution plan aims to assist Governors’ efforts to safely reopen their states.
On Thursday, the U.S House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion Democratic coronavirus relief plan. The updated HEROES Act includes: $600 per week enhanced unemployment benefit through January; a second $1,200 stimulus check to most Americans; $436 billion in relief to state and local governments; more funding for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for the hardest-hit businesses and industries; and several other components.
Additionally, on Thursday HHS announced $20 billion in new funding for providers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this Phase 3 General Distribution allocation, providers that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments and ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, will be invited to apply.
And in other Federal news, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted and advanced, H.R. 4764, TRANSPLANT Act of 2019, a bill that would reauthorize expiring stem cell transplant programs.
On Wednesday, Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael Heffernan, Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues, and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz will hold a virtual economic roundtable to “discuss the economic impacts and fiscal implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” and help inform the FY2021 budget process.
The Joint Committee on Public Health will hold a public hearing on Thursday, where it will accept written testimony for House Bill 4979 / Senate Bill 2871, an act relative to source plasma donation centers. MassBio submitted written testimony in support of both bills, which will allow Massachusetts to become a more competitive and suitable place for source plasma collection and donation.
Massachusetts’ lower-risk communities – those that have maintained their grey, green, and yellow designations for three straight weeks – can begin Phase 3 Part 2 of Massachusetts’ reopening plan on Monday. Under this phase, outdoor gatherings are allowed to have up to 100 people, indoor and outdoor performance venues are allowed to open up to 50% capacity up to 250 people (excluding stadiums, arenas, and other large performance venues), retail stores can reopen fitting rooms, and gyms, museums, libraries, driving schools, and flight schools can open up to 50% capacity.