What Happened, What You Missed: April 18-22


DOJ Appeals Ruling on Transportation Mask Mandate

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal to the US District Court ruling that overturned a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirement for masks to be worn on transit, airplanes, and other transportation-related settings.  After Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled on Monday that the CDC had exceeded its statutory authority on the travel mask mandate, the CDC asked the DOJ to file an appeal.  Of note, the DOJ declined to include a motion for stay in its appeal filing meaning the federal government will not be able to reinstate the travel mask mandate unless the ruling is overturned.   Since the court’s ruling on Monday, multiple airlines, public transit agencies, and transportation providers have announced that they will no longer require passengers to wear masks.

CMS Proposes New Policies on Health Equity, Maternal Health

In a proposed rule issued on Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined new policies intended to improve health equity and maternal health.  The proposed rule calls for adding three health equity measures to the new Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program that focus on addressing social determinants of health and assessing how a hospital is advancing health equity through strategic planning and data collection.  To boost maternal health, the rule proposes creating a new birthing-friendly designation for hospitals and would add two maternal health-focused quality measures to the Hospital IQR Program.  Comments on the proposed rule are due on June 17, 2022.

Moderna: “Bivalent” Vaccine Booster Provides Stronger Protection

On Tuesday, Moderna announced that its modified COVID-19 vaccine booster generated strong protection against multiple COVID-19 variants.  The company modified its booster shot to be “bivalent,” meaning that it combines a formula targeted for the original COVID-19 strain and a formula focused on the Beta variant.  According to preliminary trial results, the bivalent vaccine shot demonstrated efficacy against the Omicron variant and other COVID-19 variants of concern.  Moderna is still testing another bivalent vaccine with a formula targeted to both original COVID-19 strain and the Omicron variant, and results on this version are expected later in the spring.  However, the trial results have yet to be reviewed independently by scientists.

Cook Political Report Shifts 8 House Races Toward GOP

Eight Democratic-held seats in the House of Representatives are less likely to remain in control of Democrats after this fall’s midterm elections, according to the latest 2022 midterm ratings by The Cook Political Report.  The updated ratings bring the total of Democratic-held seats that are in the “toss up” category or trending Republican to 27, exacerbating Democrats’ fears of a brutal midterm election this November.  The ratings shift is welcome news for the Republicans, who only need to win five seats in this fall to regain control of the House.  The new ratings comes as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings hit the lowest level of his presidency, stoking more fear among Democrats’ regarding their electoral prospects this fall.

ICYMI: US Army Parachute Plane Prompts Evacuation of Capitol

On Wednesday night, the US Capitol Police (USCP) briefly issued, then withdrew, an evacuation alert for the US Capitol Complex after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allegedly failed to inform the USCP of an aircraft flying in the vicinity of the US Capitol.  The aircraft in question was a part of the US Army’s parachute team and was participating in a flyover at Nationals Stadium, which is less than one mile from the Capitol.  The following day, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) slammed the FAA for not informing the Capitol Police of the flyover and committed to a congressional review of what went wrong.  Pelosi also noted that Capitol personnel are still reeling from the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

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