Why it matters: The U.S. faces a range of health care flashpoints β€” unaffordable drugs, opioids, vaping β€” as we debate whether to adopt universal care. For now, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, but Republicans want to issue it a final death blow.

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2 hours ago - Health

What to know about the health care industry's Q2 earnings

View of Pfizer World Headquarters on March 23, 2021 in New York. Photo: john Smith/VIEWpress

UnitedHealth Group, HCA Healthcare and Pfizer have been the most notable health care companies to post Q2 earnings so far, but this week has been chock-full of others.

πŸ₯ Hospitals: The second quarter for Universal Health Services was so profitable that it returned $189 million in federal coronavirus bailout funds. But executives cautioned higher COVID cases may lead to labor shortages.

2 hours ago - Health

Infrastructure deal's health care winners and losers

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, center, speaks during a news conference in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 28, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Providers can breathe a sigh of relief: Congress isn't planning on repurposing unspent money from the pandemic provider relief fund, at least not yet.

Driving the news: The White House finally reached an infrastructure deal with a bipartisan group of senators yesterday, paid for in part with health care policies.

Bryan Walsh, author ofΒ Future
3 hours ago - Health

Testing our way around the Delta surge

Illustration: AΓ―da Amer/Axios

The recent surge of COVID-19 cases is strengthening the case for more frequent testing.

Why it matters: The more contagious Delta variant threatens the fuller reopening of offices and schools in the fall. But regular testing β€” especially with cheap and almost instantaneous tests β€” could help catch cases before they have a chance to spread.

3 hours ago - Health

The billion-dollar COVID booster discussion

A third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine could add billions of dollars in extra revenue for Pfizer. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer said yesterday that it expects to sell nearly $34 billion worth of coronavirus vaccines this year β€” and there could be billions more behind that, if people who have gotten the shot ultimately need boosters.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether, when and for whom a coronavirus vaccine booster will be necessary. Pfizer has a lot of money riding on those answers, and executives are already making the case that many Americans will need a third dose.

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer raises estimate of COVID-19 vaccine sales by 29% β€”Β California to mandate COVID vaccines or testing for state workers β€” Benefits of J&J COVID-19 vaccine outweigh risks.
  2. Health: CDC: Vaccinated people should get tested after exposure even if they show no symptoms β€” White House says federal agencies must require masks in hotspots β€” NY to require state employees to get vaccinated or submit to testing.
  3. Politics: Many Republicans reject latest CDC mask guidance β€” McConnell using campaign cash to pay for vaccine PSAs β€” U.S. COVID-19 travel restrictions to remain in place as Delta variant spreads.
  4. World: England lifts quarantine requirement for vaccinated EU, U.S. citizens β€” Israel to require vaccine certificates to attend social events.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Many Republicans reject latest CDC mask guidance

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) speaks during a press conference on June 8. Photo: Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Republican lawmakers across the United States are speaking out in opposition to Tuesday's recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people wear face masks in areas with high COVID transmission rates.

Why it matters: The Delta variant is driving up case rates across the country, with roughly 46% of counties across the U.S. currently classified as areas with high transmission rates.

18 hours ago - Health

White House says federal agencies must require masks in hotspots

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The White House Office of Management and Budget told federal agencies they must require masks to be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status, according to an email reviewed by Axios.

State of play: OMB deputy director Jason Miller wrote that consistent with new mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "in areas of substantial or high community transmission," employees, contractors and visitors must wear a mask inside federal buildings.

19 hours ago - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people should get tested after exposure even if they show no symptoms

A person gets a COVID-19 test outside The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised its COVID-19 testing guidance for fully vaccinated people, recommending tests after exposure even if they don't show any symptoms.

Flashback: The agency previously said that fully vaccinated people did not need tests after coming into contact with an infected person unless they experienced symptoms.

20 hours ago - Health

NY to require state employees to get vaccinated or submit to testing

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

State employees in New York will be required to either get vaccinated or submit to regular coronavirus testing starting on Labor Day, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Wednesday.

The big picture: The announcement comes as some areas have reimposed coronavirus restrictions, as country continues to grapple with the spread of the highly-transmissive Delta variant.

21 hours ago - Health

Pfizer raises estimate of COVID-19 vaccine sales by 29%

Pfizer anticipates manufacturing 4 billion doses of its vaccine next year. Photo: Chet Strange/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Pfizer expects revenue from the COVID-19 vaccine, co-developed by BioNTech, will reach $33.5 billion this year β€” a 29% jump from the previously estimated $26 billion.

Why it matters: This vaccine, which has dramatically slowed the coronavirus pandemic, is on pace to be the world's top-selling drug of all time, by far. And now Pfizer is pushing for people to get a third "booster" shot of its vaccine to combat the growing Delta variant.

McConnell using campaign cash to pay for vaccine PSAs

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to use money from his reelection campaign to run radio ads on over 100 Kentucky stations in the coming days to promote getting vaccinated for COVID-19, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The most hardcore opponents of vaccination β€” the group who say they'll never get one β€” tend to be older, whiter and more Republican, according to an analysis of our Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

23 hours ago - Health

England lifts quarantine requirement for vaccinated EU, U.S. citizens

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Biden at the G7 in Cornwall last month. Photo: Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Fully vaccinated travelers from the European Union and the U.S. will no longer need to quarantine when arriving in England, effective Aug. 2 at 4 a.m. local time, the U.K. government announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's a reflection of the British government's confidence in its highly successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout, despite the spread of the Delta variant. The move stands in stark contrast to the Biden administration's continued refusal to lift restrictions for travelers from the U.K. and Europe.

Jul 28, 2021 - Health

Ex-FDA chief predicts CDC mask guidance will have "negligible impact"

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CNBC Wednesday that he believes the updated CDC mask guidance will have a "negligible impact" on the spread of the Delta variant, arguing that "we're not going to get enough bang for our buck" by telling vaccinated people to wear masks at all times.

Why it matters: Vaccinated people's risk of serious illness is still extremely low. But because there are simply too many unvaccinated Americans, the Biden administration is asking vaccinated people to shoulder some of the burden by resuming wearing masks, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

Jul 28, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

School masking reemerges as pandemic fault line across Florida

Families protest masks outside the Hillsborough County school board meeting. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Despite Hillsborough County's COVID positivity rate hitting an all-time high, many families and students are demanding that masks stay optional for the coming school year.

What’s happening: Public testimony at the county's school board meeting on Tuesday was largely dominated by people opposed to a mask mandate, even though no mask decision was on the agenda.

Jul 28, 2021 - Health

The new mask logic

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Biden administration is essentially asking vaccinated Americans to help save the unvaccinated from themselves.

The big picture: America's "pandemic of the unvaccinated" has gotten bad enough that vaccine mandates are starting to catch on, and masks are coming back β€” in some cases, even for the vaccinated.

Jul 28, 2021 - Health

Understanding the unvaccinated

Expand chart
Data: Axios-Ipsos Poll; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The most hardcore opponents of coronavirus vaccination β€” the group who say they'll never get one β€” tend to be older, whiter and more Republican than the unvaccinated Americans who are still persuadable, according to an analysis of our Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: As the Delta variant triggers more COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, mostly among the unvaccinated, the Biden administration and even some high-profile GOP political and media figures are trying to figure out how to nudge the country's vaccination rate higher.

Updated Jul 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden weighing tailored vaccine mandates

Vice President Kamala Harris resumed wearing a mask indoors on Tuesday. Photo: Ken Cedeno/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden administration officials are debating how to expand vaccine mandates for some federal civilian health care workers as they prepare to put more testing pressure β€” and requirements β€” on the rest of the federal workforce.

Why it matters: With the Delta variant surging across the country, officials are exploring ways to persuade or pressure Americans hesitant or downright opposed to getting a coronavirus vaccine.

Maryland man accused of threatening to kill Fauci and his family

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a May Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Maryland man has been arrested on suspicion of sending repeated threats to harm Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, according to a newly unsealed criminal complaint.

Why it matters: Having advised two administrations on the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci has become a target for conspiracy theorists and others with a political agenda. He had to have security stepped up in the spring of 2020 due to threats made to him β€” as noted in the complaint against Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., 56.

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