HHS announces prohibitions against discriminating by sexual orientation, gender identity in health care; updated CDC guidance highlights airborne threat of COVID-19; European Union, Pfizer/BioNTech agree to deal that could reach 1.8 billion vaccine doses.
HHS announced Monday that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity will be protected by sex discrimination laws Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions. The Office of Civil Rights will enforce the new legislative updates, which were said to be made in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County. Reversing former President Donald Trump’s ban on LGBTQ health protections, it will now be prohibited to discriminate against consumers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Reported by The New York Times, updated public guidance issued by the CDC this past Friday on how the coronavirus spreads emphasized the occurrence of airborne transmission, which differs from prior guidance that suggested close contact was the primary cause of infection. The CDC notes that COVID-19 can be spread by inhaling very fine respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles, as well as contact with contaminated surfaces to one’s mouth, nose, or eyes. Noting that the virus can be inhaled even when more than 6 feet apart, the new focus underscores the need for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enact preventive standards for employers who wish to return employees to on-site workspaces.
As the European Union (EU) decided not to renew its current COVID-19 vaccine contracts with Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, the EU Commission announced a substantial contact extension with Pfizer/BioNTech to produce potentially 1.8 billion doses of its vaccine through 2023. Reported by the Associated Press, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the approved contract is guaranteed for 900 million doses, which can double through a future option.