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A government shutdown would freeze health care programs. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Half of the Department of Health and Human Services workforce — more than 40,000 people — would be told not to come to work in the event of a shutdown, according to the department’s planning documents.

Why it matters: The federal workforce isn’t just paper-pushers in Washington. A shutdown would freeze several major health care programs, including food safety inspections and monitoring flu outbreaks across the country.

The details:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “would be unable to support the annual seasonal influenza program … and support to state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance,” HHS’ contingency plan says. 63% of CDC employees would be furloughed.
  • The National Institutes of Health would not admit new patients or approve any new grants during a shutdown. 77% of NIH employees would be furloughed.
  • The Food and Drug Administration would need to freeze most of its food safety oversight, its inspections, and its monitoring of imported products. 42% of FDA employees would be furloughed.

Some key programs would be OK. Medicare would continue largely unfazed, as would HHS’ support for the Affordable Care Act’s federally run insurance exchanges.

The department also says it would be able to retain the staff who help states tap into funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program — though a shutdown would mean that Congress has still failed to renew that funding. States will begin to run out of CHIP funding again next month.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.