A health bill, minus Covid

On Sunday, after months of painful negotiations, Senate Democrats pushed through a $370 billion climate, tax and health care package.

The measure passed 51-50 on the party line, with all Republicans opposed and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The House of Representatives plans to approve the measure on Friday and then submit it to President Biden for signature.

While much of the focus has been on its climate provisions, the bill also includes important health posts that come as the country tries to rid itself of the virus as best it can. If the package becomes law, as expected, it would be the largest expansion of federal health policy since the Affordable Care Act was passed.

“Healthcare is a very big thing,” said my colleague Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who oversees health policy. “It’s investing in the health of the nation.”

The pandemic added a significant element of risk to the “vote-a-rama” session the Senate needed to pass the bill, as all 100 Senators, many of them in their octogenarians, gathered for hours in a confined space to cast their ballots.

“The way the Covid numbers are now, it’s likely that one of these people could have Covid,” said Kristen Coleman, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. She noted that the event created the perfect conditions for a superspreader event.

But a Covid bill is not. The legislation does not significantly address the pandemic, its aftermath, or future outbreaks.

“What would help the pandemic is if Congress approved more funding for vaccines and treatments for both Covid and monkeypox,” Sheryl said. “This is not a solution to it.”

The legislation would expand access to health care, which could improve the country’s ability to respond to health crises in the future. But its narrow passage – and lack of essential Covid measures – also underscores the nation’s political divide.

“This divide has a lot to do with how Democrats and Republicans view government responsibility and its relationship with industry,” Sheryl said.

In a way, the bill reflects where we are as a society, she added. “We are still deeply divided over politics and particularly what role government should play in our lives,” she said. “These divisions predate the Covid pandemic – they are fundamental.”

More about the invoice:

“I feel good,” he told reporters on Sunday morning.

Biden originally tested positive for the coronavirus on July 21 and had a sore throat, runny nose, cough, body aches and fatigue. After five days of isolation and being treated with the antiviral drug Paxlovid, he tested negative and returned to the Oval Office, only to test positive again a few days later and be put back into isolation.

Rebounds are believed to be rare with Paxlovid, but high-profile cases have led some to wonder if it’s more common. The FDA is currently investigating reports of viral rebound after treatment with Paxlovid. If you notice such a recovery, you can report it to the Pfizer portal.

President Biden’s weekend beach trip didn’t last long. Today he arrived in Kentucky to survey the flood damage. He is expected to hold rose garden ceremonies on Tuesday and Wednesday to sign legislation that will invest in the domestic semiconductor industry and expand medical care for veterans exposed to toxic substances.

As summer draws to a close, many families across the United States prepare for a new school year. Some students have already returned to class.

This year, many school districts across the country have lifted Covid measures after months of debate over virus restrictions, and classrooms in 2022 will look almost normal this year.

So we ask the parents: How do you feel about the schools this year? How has your attitude changed since the last few school years caused by the pandemic? We would like to hear your opinion. You can send them to us here. We may use your reply in an upcoming newsletter.

  • Tibet, an autonomous region of China, is imposing new restrictions as virus cases emerge, Reuters reports.

I can’t cope, just endure. My 55 year old husband died in a nursing home in April 2020 from dementia complicated by pneumonia. I’m pretty sure it was Covid as the care home reported 20 Covid deaths this month. But test kits were scarce, and as far as I know it was never tested. He was buried with only clergy present to say the Christian prayers. Even as his wife, I couldn’t attend his funeral. The cemetery offered to send me a copy of the recorded service. I said no. I couldn’t bear to look at it, but I couldn’t bear to erase it. I took comfort in the fact that, unlike many others, he at least had a respectful burial.

– Maureen Matkovich, Montgomery County, Md.

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Thank you for reading. I’ll be back Wednesday – Jonathan

Brent Lewis has compiled photos for this briefing.

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