Today, Vice President Mike Pence led a discussion with the chief executives and senior leaders of approximately 50 states, territories, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to discuss local, state, and federal COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, including the continued collaboration on vaccine and therapeutic distribution and administration execution.
The Vice President strongly encouraged governors to redouble their efforts to actively collaborate with health care professionals to ensure earlier use of monoclonal antibodies to prevent severe illness and hospitalization. This request was echoed by CDC Director Redfield who encouraged governors and health care leaders to increase access to therapeutics by better leveraging outpatient infusion centers. Seniors and individuals with co-morbidities who test positive should actively inquire with medical professionals about the use of therapeutics and ask for an explanation if they are not receiving potential life-saving therapeutics. As a reminder, NIH issued guidance for the therapeutic management of patients with COVID-19 in early December. The Vice President also encouraged governors to keep messaging on the needed vigilance with washing hands, watching our distance, and wearing a mask when distancing is not possible.
Administrator Gaynor and Brigadier General Sanford provided an update on Federal PPE and medical personnel support. The Vice President underscored that thanks to the successful efforts to modernize and bolster Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), state stockpiles, and even private sector reserves, our Nation now has multiple months of PPE reserves on top of external production and that states should be actively utilizing supplies where needed.
Ambassador Birx provided an update on data and trends from across the Nation and discussed continued collaboration at every level of government to tackle COVID-19 in partnership.
The Vice President commended those states who have gotten off to a strong start with robust programs to quickly vaccinate citizens and encouraged all governors to expand vaccine access for the most vulnerable – particularly citizens over 65 and adults with co-morbidities.
Secretary Azar provided an update on Operation Warp Speed, including efforts to expand eligibility groups to seniors and vulnerable individuals and scale access points for vaccine administration — not just hospitals but also pharmacies, community health centers, and mass vaccination sites. The Secretary also discussed the release of additional supply given the confidence in vaccine production and discussed future allocation changes based on vaccine administration progress by state. Secretary Azar underscored that there vaccine supply currently significantly outstrips the requests from states and health officials for vaccine orders and urged states to increase demand and get vaccine shots in arms more quickly.
Commissioner Hahn also provided an update on vaccine developments and the robust FDA approval process. CDC Director Redfield strongly urged governors and their teams to go beyond the initial Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for prioritization to focus on the most vulnerable to help scale vaccinations to available supply.
The Governors of Maine, North Dakota, and West Virginia highlighted best practices for vaccine administration as they are among the states leading the path forward on ensuring prompt vaccination.
Participants from the White House Coronavirus Task Force:
- Vice President Mike Pence
- Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
- Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D., White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator
- Seema Verma, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS
- General Gustave Perna, Operation Warp Speed (OWS), DOD
- Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIH), HHS
- Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Federal Drug Administration (FDA), HHS
- Director Robert Redfield, M.D., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HHS
- Administrator Pete Gaynor, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), DHS
- Brigadier General David Sanford, Defense Supply Center & Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, DOD
Since January 2020, the Trump Administration has organized and hosted 49 governors-only briefings to drive effective communication and collaboration at every level of government regarding COVID-19 response, recovery, and vaccination. Public health incidents, like natural disasters, are locally-executed, State-managed, and Federally-supported. This is likely the most robust Federal-State collaboration in our Nation’s history.