The nonprofit community service partnership hosted its annual Samuel J. Service Medals. Hayman in America (“Sammies”) on Tuesday night, during which a trio from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention won the COVID-19 Response Award for their work in early-mid 2020 developing and implementing a plan to distributing COVID-19 vaccines across the country and informing the public about them before the vaccines are even available.
“Thanks to the efforts of the CDC task force—which at its peak had more than 700 full-time members and collectively benefited from the work of more than 1,500 people—more than 570 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States states,” said the Partnership. “This has occurred with regular public communication and new levels of data sharing between the local, state and federal levels about safety issues and strategies for reaching new vaccine-approved populations.”
Dr. David Fitter, an epidemiologist at the CDC who leads the vaccine distribution task force, said executive authority of the event that “we can represent thousands of people who have worked on this together.”
Dr. Amanda Cohn of the CDC said the ceremony and seeing all the winners “makes you proud to work for the federal government.” Here are some of the other recent titles you may have missed.
The Justice Department announced Tuesday federal criminal charges against 47 defendants for their alleged involvement in a $250 million fraud scheme using a federally funded program designed to feed underserved children in Minnesota during the pandemic. “These indictments, which are alleged to be the largest pandemic-assisted fraud scheme indicted to date, underscore the Department of Justice’s ongoing commitment to combating pandemic-related fraud and holding accountable those who who carry them out,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “In partnership with government agencies, the Department of Justice will continue to bring to justice those who have exploited the pandemic for personal gain and stolen from the American taxpayer.”
On Wednesday, the Office of the Inspector General of Justice released a report on how the department’s criminal division and the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys managed and coordinated pandemic-related allegations and referrals. “While [both] have provided guidance, training and policies to their prosecutors, they can better utilize the limited resources available to address fraud by improving the tracking, management and notification of fraud referrals and caseloads,” the report said. “We have also identified successful prosecutorial practices used by various USAOs that, once shared by EOUSA in the various areas, could further improve the Department of Justice’s response to pandemic-related fraud.”
After failed tests early in the pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration “has an opportunity to better plan and respond to current and future public health emergencies,” the Department of Health and Human Services watchdog said in a report released this week. One recommendation is “before the next emergency, FDA should work with key stakeholders in the laboratory community … to determine how to communicate during and before a public health emergency,” the report said. Another is “FDA should develop technical guidance and educational materials [for test developers] to relieve some of its workload during any current and future emergency response and to ensure that these resources are available to developers as early as possible in an emergency. The FDA agreed with all six recommendations from the IG.
The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee issued a risk warning this week warning about potential identity theft of minors and seniors in Housing and Urban Development’s housing assistance programs to apply for the Small Business Administration’s COVID relief programs. “The PRAC Pandemic Analysis Center of Excellence identified possible identity or other fraud in one or more of these SBA programs involving 945 minors (under 18) and 231 adults (80 and older),” it said in the consultation. “While we understand that the information may not involve fraud or impersonation in all cases, we are proposing to provide the supporting data directly to SBA, as this strongly indicates that further review by SBA guidance is necessary.”
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