HHS announces new funding for testing and vaccination efforts amid Covid-19 outbreaks in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Iowa, and Texas.
- District of Columbia: HHS announced on Thursday that the agency will increase funding for Covid-19 testing and vaccination efforts as the delta variant continues to spread, particularly among those who have not been vaccinated. According to the agency, more than $1.6 billion from the American Rescue Plan will go toward testing and monitoring infections in high-risk areas, including homeless shelters, prisons, and domestic violence shelters. In addition, around $100 million will be distributed to health clinics in rural areas, where vaccination rates have typically lagged, for vaccine outreach. "This funding will give trusted messengers in rural communities the tools they need to counsel patients on how COVID-19 vaccines can help protect them and their loved ones," HHS secretary Xavier Becerra said. (Sullivan, The Hill, 7/22; Masson, Becker's Hospital Review, 7/22)
- Iowa: UnityPoint Health announced on Friday Doug Watson will serve as SVP and CFO of the organization, effective August 16. Watson currently serves as CFO of CommonSpirit Health's southwest division. He will succeed Dan Carpenter, who will act as SVP of planning for the health system. (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 7/22)
- Texas: Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines and chair of the Airlines for America (A4A) lobbying group, said on Thursday that the airline and A4A are not recommending an extension of the federal transportation mask mandate, which will end on September 13. According to USA Today, President Joe Biden enacted the mandate, which was requested by airlines and their unions to protect flight crews and ensure mask compliance among passengers, in January. They extended the mandate in May, when it was initially set to expire. Kelly said airlines support CDC's current guidance on masks, which state that those who are vaccinated can go without masks while those who are unvaccinated should remain masked. He said that unless the guidance chances, airlines "wouldn't advocate from Southwest's perspective, or the A4A for that matter, extending the mandate." (Gilbertson, USA Today, 7/22)