President Joe Biden toasted the reporters at the packed White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and received his share of roasting, too. In other Washington news, emails released by a House select committee show Trump administration official did not take public health officials’ advice on guidance for religious services, and limits on health savings contributions are rising.
Biden Attends Correspondents’ Dinner As Virus Stalks Washington
President Joe Biden attended the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner for the first time as commander-in-chief, even as the coronavirus continues to infect those around him. “We’re here to show the country we’re getting through this pandemic,” Biden told the crowd of some 2,600 people at the Washington Hilton on Saturday night, adding all attendees had to be fully vaccinated and boosted. “We have to stay vigilant.” Biden told the room that Vice President Kamala Harris, who spent this week working from her residence after receiving a positive diagnosis, was doing well although she couldn’t attend. White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield announced on Friday via Twitter that she too had tested positive as the virus advanced further into the president’s inner circle. (Cook, 5/1)
Sen. Rand Paul Wants To Investigate Origins Of COVID-19
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul promised Saturday to wage a vigorous review into the origins of the coronavirus if Republicans retake the Senate and he lands a committee chairmanship. Speaking to supporters at a campaign rally, the libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican denounced what he sees as government overreach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He applauded a recent judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs. (Schreiner, 5/1)
Sen. Bennet Tests Positive For COVID-19
Sen. Michael Bennet (D- Colo.) on Sunday announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19, after cases among his colleagues delayed some Senate business last week. “I am vaccinated and boosted and thankfully experiencing only minor, cold-like symptoms,” Bennet said in a statement announcing his diagnosis. “I will work virtually while quarantining in Denver according to the guidance set forth by the Senate Attending Physician,” he added. (Beals, 5/1)
On news about the previous administration —
Trump Officials Muzzled CDC On Church COVID Guidance, E-Mails Show
Trump White House officials in May 2020 removed public health advice urging churches to consider virtual religious services as the coronavirus spread, delivering a messaging change sought by the president’s supporters, according to emails from former top officials released by a House panel on Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent its planned public health guidance for religious communities to the White House on May 21, 2020, seeking approval to publish it. The agency had days earlier released reports saying that the virus had killed three and infected dozens at church events in Arkansas and infected 87 percent of attendees at a choir practice in Washington state, and health experts had warned that houses of worship had become hot spots for virus transmission. (Diamond, 4/29)
House Panel Documents Reveal Trump Officials Overrode CDC On COVID-19 Church Guidance
The House select subcommittee investigating the U.S. coronavirus response released new evidence on Friday detailing how Trump administration officials involved themselves in COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to faith-based communities. The CDC had sent guidance for faith-based communities to the White House in May 2020. In an email exchange shared by the subcommittee, administration officials, including then-White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, discussed the proposal and offered edits. (Vakil, 4/29)
Amid Inflation, IRS Boosts Health Savings Account Contribution Limits
If you’re eligible for health savings account contributions, you can deposit more money starting in 2023, thanks to an inflation adjustment from the IRS. In 2023, you can save up to $3,850 with an individual health insurance plan, up from $3,650 in 2022, the IRS announced Friday. And you can soon contribute up to $7,750 with a family plan, boosted from $7,300.To qualify, you’ll need eligible high-deductible health insurance, with an annual deductible of at least $1,500 for self-only coverage or $3,000 for family plans. (Dore, 4/29)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.