October 28, 2020

Around the nation: HHS scraps Santa-themed coronavirus vaccine effort

Daily Briefing

    Ric Erwin, chair of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, called HHS' cancelation of the $250 million advertising campaign—which would have involved performers dressed as Santa Claus promoting the benefits of a coronavirus vaccine—"extremely disappointing," in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Florida, and Georgia.

    • District of Columbia: HHS on Friday announced that it will no longer launch a planned, $250 million advertising campaign in which performers dressed as Santa Claus would promote the benefits of getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. The campaign—which was proposed by Michael Caputo, an assistant secretary at HHS who is currently on medical leave—was intended to "defeat despair, inspire hope, and achieve national recovery," according to a work statement for the initiative. According to the Wall Street Journal, the campaign's cancelation comes as it appears unlikely that the United States will have a widely available vaccine against the coronavirus before the holiday season. Ric Erwin, chair of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, called the campaign's cancelation "extremely disappointing." He told the Journal, "This was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won't happen" (Wernau et. al., Wall Street Journal, 10/25).

    • Florida: Florida's Department of Health on Friday released its proposed plan for distributing a potential vaccine against the coronavirus. Under the proposal, frontline health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, and first responders would be the first groups of people to receive the vaccine in the state. In the proposal's second phase, pediatricians, primary care providers, and some pharmacies would receive doses of the vaccine when they become available, and the state then, under the proposal's third phase, would begin distributing the vaccine through routine delivery methods such as commercial pharmacies (Miller, Orlando Sentinel, 10/24).

    • Georgia: Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center, which had been in operation since 1947, closed on Thursday. The hospital had experienced financial problems that were exacerbated by delayed and canceled scheduled procedures amid the coronavirus epidemic. A. S. Ghiathi, who was the director of emergency medicine at the hospital, said of the hospital's closure, "I think the vacuum that is going to be created from the standpoint of, number one, the jobs that have created, and number two, the amount of money people spend here, and tax creation for the county. All of that is going to be felt" (AP/Modern Healthcare, 10/23).
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