Aug 31, 2020 - Health

Report: HHS offers $250M contract for drive to "inspire hope" during pandemic

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building

Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services is auctioning a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm to "defeat despair and inspire hope" about the coronavirus pandemic, Politico reported Monday evening.

Why it matters: The decision to offer the contract comes as HHS faces questions over its independence from the Trump administration in recent weeks.

  • Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn earlier this month called criticisms against his remarks about granting an emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma as a treatment for the coronavirus "entirely justified."
  • President Trump has previously accused senior health officials of being part of the "Deep State" following a decision to put the plasma treatment on hold.
  • Hahn said in a Twitter post that what he should have said better was that "the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction.

The state of play: The document, viewed by Politico, said a majority of the money will be spent from now until January.

  • The goals of the contract are to "defeat despair and inspire hope, sharing best practices for businesses to operate in the new normal and instill confidence to return to work and restart the economy,” build a “coalition of spokespeople” around the country, provide information on vaccines and therapeutic treatments, and give updates regarding reopenings.
“By harnessing the power of traditional, digital and social media, the sports and entertainment industries, public health associations, and other creative partners to deliver important public health and economic information the administration can defeat despair, inspire hope and achieve national recovery."
  • HHS did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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