Health Care — US scraps international testing rule

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Today in health care, you won’t need a negative COVID test to enter the US by air anymore. We’ll dive into the decision.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

Biden officials ending international travel requirement

Another crisis-era COVID rule is being lifted.

The Biden administration announced Friday it is ending a requirement that international travelers test negative for the coronavirus before coming to the US

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “has determined based on the science and data that this requirement is no longer necessary at this time,” a senior administration official said.
  • The requirement ends at 12:01 am Sunday.

Between the lines: Some experts had noted that the requirement did not seem to be serving much purpose, given that COVID-19 is already circulating widely within the United States, and land border crossings are not subject to the same requirement.

The travel industry had also lobbied to remove the requirement, saying it was no longer needed.

Sign of a new era: The move is another sign of a new stage of COVID-19 where some of the measures designed when the virus was seen as an overwhelming crisis are being wound down.

  • “We are able to take this step because of the tremendous progress we’ve made in our fight against the virus: We have made lifesaving vaccines and treatments widely available and these tools are working to prevent serious illness and death, and are effective against the prevalent variants circulating in the US and around the world,” the senior administration official said.

Read more here.


Airlines and travel groups cheered the Biden administration’s decision to lift its COVID-19 testing requirement for air travelers entering the US, a long-sought victory for the industry.

It follows a lobbying blitz: Travel and tourism interests have pressed the White House for months to lift the requirement in a series of meetings, letters and opinion pieces. They argued that the rule was hurting demand for travel and noted that other countries such as the UK and France had already dropped similar restrictions.

“Lifting this policy will help encourage and restore air travel to the United States, benefiting communities across the country that rely heavily on travel and tourism to support their local economies,” Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America, a trade group that represents the top US carriers, said in a statement.

“We are eager to welcome the millions of travelers who are ready to come to the US for vacation, business and meetings with loved ones.”

The travel industry pitched the Biden administration on the potential economic growth of dropping the testing requirement. The US Travel Association released an analysis this month finding that making the change could increase travel spending in the US by 12 percent, bringing in an additional $9 billion.

Read more here.

Feds buy 500K more vaccine doses to fight monkeypox

Health officials announced Friday that the White House has ordered 500,000 more doses of a vaccine believed to be effective against monkeypox.

  • These are liquid, frozen doses of the Jynneos smallpox vaccine, Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said during a press briefing.
  • While there are currently no vaccines or antivirals specifically designed to treat monkeypox, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized Jynneos for use in adults to prevent monkeypox infections.

The order announced on Friday is expected to be delivered later this year.

The current supply: O’Connell also stated that the US’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) currently has 72,000 doses of Jynneos in its immediate inventory and an additional 300,000 are expected to arrive in the next few weeks.

The drug is created by Bavarian Nordic, a biotech company headquartered in Denmark.

  • The SNS also has more than 100 million doses of the ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine, though health officials noted there has been a preference for Jynneos.
  • ACAM2000 is an older vaccine and comes with some side effects that may make providers concerned, including muscle pain, rashes and nausea.

Read more here.


The Pentagon on Friday confirmed its first known case of monkeypox in the US military.

  • An active-duty service member based in Germany recently tested positive for the virus, a spokesperson for the Defense Department confirmed to The Hill.
  • NBC News, which first reported the case, was told that the unidentified individual was seen and treated at the Stuttgart Army Health Clinic and is now in isolation in their on-base quarters.

What they’re saying: Navy Capt. William Speaks, a spokesman for US European Command, told NBC that public health officials have found that the risk to the overall population is “very low,” as the case is part of the West African strain, a generally mild version with limited human- to-human transmission.

He added that contact tracing is being done for clinic staff who saw the patient “as a precautionary measure.”

The CDC has stressed that the virus — spread through prolonged skin to skin contact or through contaminated fabric like clothing or bed sheets — is not a high risk to the public.

Read more here.

CDC data reveals new overlap

Reports of increased substance use and rising rates of mental health disorders throughout the past few years are nothing new, especially as Americans struggled with the economic and humanistic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) document to what extent these two conditions overlap.

According to the center’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, in 2019 at least one-third of adults assessed for substance use at treatment centers reported severe psychiatric problems.

Although the current data were collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, authors noted future research will focus on the crisis’ impact on trends.

  • In 2019, more than 65 million adults self-reported binge drinking while more than 35 million reported using illicit drugs during the past month, authors explained, noting individuals with substance use disorders are at an increased risk for overdose and other poor health outcomes.
  • A total of 49,138 individuals were assessed at 339 treatment centers across 37 states. All individuals were at least 18 years of age, and the most commonly reported substances used in the past month were alcohol, followed by cannabis, misuse of prescription opioids and illicit stimulants, among others.

Read more here.


  • Are these Cocoa Krispies-loving hamsters a key to cracking long Covid? (stat)
  • Report reveals sharp rise in transgender young people in the US (New York Times)
  • Some monkeypox patients also have sexually transmitted diseases, CDC says (CNBC)


  • Grassroots groups lead way on closing Colorado’s infant mortality gap (Kaiser Health News)
  • ‘Not going away’: Northeast Florida COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations rising (News4Jax)
  • Oklahoma’s Abortion Law Raises Questions About NCAA’s Softball World Series (The New York Times)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.



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