NPR reports on the secretive deals the government’s vaccine development program struck with pharmaceutical companies, details of which may not be available to the public for years. Other Trump administration news reports on an internal dispute over passenger cruises and a controversial HHS public relations campaign.
How Operation Warp Speed’s Big Vaccine Contracts Could Stay Secret
The Trump administration has compared Operation Warp Speed’s crash program to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to the Manhattan Project. And like the notoriously secretive government project to make the first atomic bomb, the details of Operation Warp Speed’s work may take a long time to unravel. One reason is that Operation Warp Speed is issuing billions of dollars’ worth of coronavirus vaccine contracts to companies through a nongovernment intermediary, bypassing the regulatory oversight and transparency of traditional federal contracting mechanisms, NPR has learned. (Lupkin, 9/29)
CDC Director Overruled On Cruise Ship Ban
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was overruled when he pushed to extend a “no-sail order” on passenger cruises into next year, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the conversation today in the White House Situation Room. (Swan, 9/29)
CDC Will Extend ‘No-Sail’ Order Through October 31 In Compromise With White House
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will extend its “no-sail” order for the U.S. cruise industry through Oct. 31, a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly told USA TODAY. The CDC’s previous order had been scheduled to expire Sept. 30 after extensions to the original mid-March order in April and again in July. The CDC requested that the order be extended to February 15, but compromised with the White House Task Force to extend until Oct. 31 four days before the Nov. 3 election. (Hines, 9/29)
HHS Ad Blitz Sputters As Celebrities Back Away
They made a list of more than 30 celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Billy Joel to appear in their ad campaign to “inspire hope” about coronavirus, but they ended up with only Dennis Quaid, CeCe Winans and Hasidic singer Shulem Lemmer. The health department’s $300 million-plus, taxpayer-funded vehicle to boost confidence in President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic is sputtering. Celebrities are refusing to participate, and staff are arraying against it. (Diamond, 9/29)
In updates on other health-related programs from the Trump administration —
The Surprisingly Limited Success Of Trump’s Signature Anti-Poverty Program
Donald Trump has spent months on the campaign trail touting his signature anti-poverty program as a way to attract support from Black voters. Opportunity zones, he has said, have drawn “$100 billion of new investment … into 9,000 of our most distressed neighborhoods” and created “countless jobs.” … Opportunity zones were created in 2017 to allow wealthy investors to avoid the federal capital gains tax by reinvesting their profits in funds that invest in designated census tracts that are high poverty or low income, or next door to a tract that meets those standards. (Trickey, 9/29)
Trump Shines Up A ‘Platinum Plan’ For Black Voters
In his efforts to woo African-American voters before the election, on September 25 President Donald Trump unveiled a plan to shovel capital, jobs and opportunities into Black communities — a program that his campaign is calling the “Platinum Plan for Black America.” For Black communities, the Platinum Plan commits to unlocking $500 billion in access to capital, creating 3 million new jobs, and bridging historic disparities in health care and education. (Capps, 9/29)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.