When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line.
Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will remain largely flat, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others are still in the dark.
Because both of the vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States are two-dose regimens, the Trump administration’s initial policy was to hold back second doses to protect against the possibility of manufacturing disruptions. But that approach shifted in recent weeks, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
PALM BEACH, Fla/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Millions of Americans saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that it did not do enough to help everyday people.
Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he said this week he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, including extending special unemployment benefits expiring on Dec. 26, and $1.4 trillion for normal government spending.
Without Trump’s signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. A partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unless Congress can agree a stop-gap government funding bill before then.
The number of new applications for unemployment insurance surged last week to 853,000, a jump of more than 100,000 from the previous week, amid record-high coronavirus cases that are slowing economic growth.
In the week ending December 5, initial weekly jobless claims rose by 137,000 from a revised total of 716,000 applications. The non-seasonally adjusted number of claims totaled 947,504 last week, rising by 228,982, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. Another 427,609 people applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a program created to expand jobless benefits to contractors, gig workers and others who do not typically qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. More than 19 million Americans were on some form of jobless aid as of November 21, according to the Labor Department.
After languishing for more than a year, Judy Shelton’s controversial nomination to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors appears poised for Senate confirmation in the final weeks of the Trump administration.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to hold a vote sometime this week after Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, signaled her support for the nominee. Shelton has attracted great scrutiny over views that place her well outside of the economic mainstream.
Shelton, who served as an adviser to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, is expected to be confirmed on a slim majority of 51 votes, prevailing over the opposition of Senate Democrats and two Republican critics.
Her confirmation for a term that runs through 2024 comes as the Fed enters a critical stretch under President-elect Joe Biden, with key decisions to be made on how much support the central bank can continue to provide to U.S. markets during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the trade deficit jumped 5.9% to $67.1 billion, the widest since August 2006.