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May 19, 2020

Around the nation: White House announces new members of coronavirus task force

Daily Briefing

    Vice President Pence said new members of the White House's coronavirus task force include experts in vaccines and therapeutics as well as experts in workplace safety, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Florida.

    • District of Columbia: Vice President Pence on Friday announced that the White House has added several new members to its coronavirus task force, including Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Gene Scalia, NIH Director Francis Collins, and Peter Marks, director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Pence said the new members include experts in vaccines and therapeutics, as well as experts in workplace safety who can help the task force as it turns its focus toward "getting Americans back to work and allowing businesses to re-open" (Ward, Politico, 5/15).

    • District of Columbia: The AFL-CIO, a cohort of unions that represents 12.5 million workers, on Monday filed a federal lawsuit seeking to compel the DOL to establish temporary emergency standards regarding workplace safety and infectious diseases, Axios' Joann Muller reports. AFL-CIO in the lawsuit argues that DOL has not done enough to protect workers from the new coronavirus, particularly as many states move to reopen nonessential businesses. AFL-CIO in the suit requests that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit order the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to establish a rule within 30 days that would require employers to evaluate their workplaces for risk of infectious disease transmission and develop an infection control plan, Muller reports (Muller, Axios, 5/18).

    • Florida: AdventHealth on Saturday announced that the results of more than 35,000 diagnostic tests for the new coronavirus that were ordered by the health system were unreliable. AdventHealth in a statement said the tests were performed by a third-party lab. In addition, some tests sent to the lab for processing have been backlogged and will not be processed, the health system said. Terry Shaw, the health system's president and CEO, said AdventHealth has "terminated [its] contract" with the unnamed lab and will notify affected patients with a phone call or letter. "We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience and uncertainty [this] has caused," Shaw said. Separately, Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth's Central Florida Division, said, "Teams across our organization are working around-the-clock to remedy the situation" (Lush, Associated Press, 5/16).

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