A union leader representing the servers at the Washington hotel where the White House Correspondents’ Dinner will be held this weekend told Axios that the staff hasn’t been told about any special testing or vaccination requirements. Meanwhile, the former Trump administration covid adviser Deborah Birx says in her new book that her first meeting with President Donald Trump lasted 30 seconds and he dismissed her concerns about the virus.
Axios: Correspondents’ Dinner COVID Precautions Don’t Apply To All
Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ dinner will have some of the strictest COVID requirements for attendees of major DC events, but the safety plan doesn’t extend to staff working the event at the Washington Hilton, the venue for the soirée. … The correspondents’ association bolstered the dinner’s entry requirements earlier this month. All guests must show proof of vaccination and a negative same-day test. But the communications director for Unite Here Local 25, the union representing the Washington Hilton’s hospitality workers, tells Axios that the hotel hasn’t approached the union about testing or vaccination requirements for staff working the event. (Hopkins, 4/28)
The Hill: Servers At Correspondents’ Dinner Not Approached About Testing, Vaccination Requirements, Union Says
In a statement to The Hill on Thursday, a Hilton Hotel spokesperson said its Washington hotel hosted multiple events with COVID-19 protocols throughout the pandemic, but declined to provide specifics about its plans for the WHCA event. (Oshin, 4/28)
The Hill: Birx Book: First Meeting With Trump Lasted 30 Seconds Before He Flipped On Fox News
Deborah Birx, who served as the coronavirus response coordinator for former President Trump, said in her book released Tuesday that her first meeting with Trump lasted 30 seconds before he turned on Fox News and she was escorted out. Birx says she met with Trump on March 2, 2020, to emphasize her concerns about the new virus after she joined the White House coronavirus task force, Business Insider reported, citing her memoir “Silent Invasion: The Untold Story of the Trump Administration, Covid -19, and Preventing the Next Pandemic Before It’s Too Late.” “Mr. President, this is not like the flu. This is far more serious than the flu. We have to shape our response differently,” Birx said she told Trump, who dismissed her concerns and said the people he talked to did not believe COVID-19 would be very serious. (Lonas, 4/28)
NPR: Jerome Adams Calls For Masking ‘Compassion’
Before there were mask requirements or recommendations or candle tests or homemade mask drives, in the very early days of the pandemic, the US Surgeon General Jerome Adams published what would become a notorious tweet: “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” As the supply increased and science emerged showing masks were effective in stopping the spread of the virus, Adams encouraged the use of masks. (Simmons-Duffin, 4/28)
KHN: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: More Covid Complications For Congress
Congress is back in session, but covid diagnoses for Vice President Kamala Harris and two Democratic senators have temporarily left the Senate without a working majority to approve covid funding. Meanwhile, opponents of the Affordable Care Act have filed yet another challenging lawsuit a portion of the law, and we say goodbye to the late Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who left a long legacy of health laws. Rachel Cohrs of STAT News, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, and Rebecca Adams of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. (4/28)
Wyoming Public Radio: Expanded SNAP Benefits Are Set To Expire At The End Of April
The US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will be discontinuing expanded benefits for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the end of this month. More commonly known as food stamps, federal COVID-19 emergency funds allowed for an expansion of benefits after a public health emergency was declared. Current SNAP recipients will only receive regular food stamp issuances beginning in May according to the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS). This comes as inflation continues to rise, making it more difficult for lower-income and those on fixed incomes to get by. The Mountain West region currently has the highest rate of inflation nationwide and Wyoming’s is also higher than the national average. (Cook, 4/28)
Also, in news from Capitol Hill —
Stat: Would Drugmakers Lower Their Insulin Prices If Congress Asks Nicely?
After a yearslong, drawn-out debate over how to best lower patients’ prescription drug prices, two senators are workshopping a new idea to slash insulin costs: dangling incentives to convince drugmakers to lower prices of their own free will. It’s largely based on a common complaint from drugmakers: that their sticker prices are sky-high because they have to pay insurers to get more favorable coverage for their medicines. The policy would ban those payments to insurers and cap patients’ monthly out-of-pocket costs for insulin, but only if drugmakers agree to reduce their prices to 2006 levels. Back then, a vial of insulin lawmakers cited cost about $68 without insurance; in 2019, it ran as much as $300. (Cohrs, 4/29)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Senate Candidate Herschel Walker Spent Years Promoting Health Products With Dubious Claims
Senate candidate Herschel Walker has spent years promoting and developing health-conscious products with dubious benefits and a skepticism from the medical community, a review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found. Through the two decades that Walker has been retired from professional football, the Republican frontrunner has repeatedly tried to cash in on his career as a legendary athlete with a striking physique. He looked to “revolutionize” the health market with products he said would prevent aging, help weight loss and even protect against the damages of smoking—despite little evidence, his company admitted in filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. (Jackson, 4/28)
Politico: House Republicans Attempt To Force Vote On Transgender Sports Bill
Dozens of House Republicans on Wednesday signed on to a petition to force a vote on legislation that would ban transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity. Nine lawmakers led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) submitted the Tuesday petition to discharge the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which was introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) in January 2021 and has not been taken up by the House Education and Labor Committee. (Quilantan, 4/28)
In non-covid developments from Washington—
AP: Justices Limit Discrimination Claims For Emotional Distress
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit filed by a deaf, legally blind woman against a physical therapy business that wouldn’t provide an American Sign Language interpreter for her appointments. In a 6-3 ruling with conservatives in the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that businesses that receive federal health care money can’t be sued for discrimination under the Affordable Care Act when the harm is alleged emotional, not financial. (4/28)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.