Most infected sailors asymptomatic during carrier COVID outbreak, study shows

In today's Federal Newscast: A new study confirms that COVID-19 can spread, big time, asymptomatically. The U.S. Postal Service lost billions of dollars in Fisc...

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  • A new Navy study adds to the scientific consensus that people can spread coronavirus without being sick themselves. The study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at the COVID-19 outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. The authors report the virus spread incredibly quickly within the ships close quarters: 27% of the nearly 1,300 sailors aboard tested positive at one point or another. But they also found nearly 77% of those crewmembers were asymptomatic at the time they tested positive. Almost half of them never developed symptoms at all.
  • New regulations confirm health care professionals at the Department of Veterans Affairs can still practice across state lines. The regulations affirm current VA policy that allows doctors to see patients from any state regardless of their medical license. VA has deployed about 3,000 medical professionals to 47 states since the start of the pandemic. VA healthcare workers have served at state veterans homes, Indian Health Service facilities and other VA medical centers.
  • The Department of Homeland Security added two new members to a federal advisory committee that advises the DHS secretary on policy issues. The two newest members are Tom Jenkins, the fire chief for the city of Rogers, Arkansas and Catherine Lotrionte, a senior fellow in technology and cybersecurity issues at Georgetown and Auburn Universities. These new members will join their first meeting this week, when the council will issue final reports on issues ranging from economic security to emerging technologies and biometrics.
  • Two new technology executives take over key roles in the intelligence community and the Energy Department. The Intelligence Community has a new chief information officer and the Energy Department has brought in someone to run its newest cyber office. Matthew Kozma takes over from John Sherman as the CIO of the intelligence community. He comes to ODNI after working for DoD as the executive agent for Unified Platform and Joint Cyber Command and Control. Meanwhile, the Energy Department named Nicholas Andersen as its new Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response. Anderson comes to Energy from the Office of Management and Budget, where he was cybersecurity advisor to the federal CIO.
  • OMB is giving agencies an extra two years to meet the data center requirements under the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act. A new memo from acting federal CIO Michael Rigas extends the deadline to September 30, 2022. FITARA requires agencies to stop spending money on new data centers, and either co-locate servers and infrastructure or move to the cloud. The memo also extends the time for agencies to meet optimization metrics OMB laid out in a 2019 memo that focused on energy savings, virtualization and server utilization.
  • The Pentagon’s one-size-fits-all approach to medicine is harming women in the military, according to the Defense Health Board. Equipment not properly made for women, poor sex education and sexual violence are all contributing to a lack of military readiness and to women leaving the service early. The board made several suggestions to remedy the issue. One is to create an office that rethinks how male centricity in military culture may disadvantage women’s health. The office would also minimize gender differences in how healthcare is delivered and how medicine is researched. The board also suggested more prominent sex education for all service members. (Federal News Network)
  • Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey is assigned as the new leader of Navy Personnel Command. Holsey is currently serving as special assistant to the commander of Naval Air Forces. He previously served as director for operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff National Military Command Center. Holsey will replace Vice Adm. John Nowell, who is currently serving as the head of Navy personnel.
  • Current and former Homeland Security Committee chairmen say their panel should have sole House jurisdiction over DHS. Current Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and past chairmen Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) are calling on House leadership to take up a pending proposal. It would designate the Homeland Security Committee as the single point of oversight and review for the department. The chairmen said the committee has narrow authority over a small subset of what DHS does and is why the committee hasn’t been able to advance a reauthorization bill for the department since its creation in 2003.
  • The Postal Service ended yet another fiscal year in dire straits. Despite a surge in election mail, the Postal Service ended fiscal 2020 with more than a $9 billion dollar net loss. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy warned that the losses will continue if Congress, the White House and its postal regulators do nothing. He and the USPS Board of Governors are offering Congress and the incoming Biden administration a shot at working together on long-term postal reform. DeJoy said any reform deal will keep six-day delivery in place. (Federal News Network)
  • The Coast Guard said it has implemented anti-harassment programs after a congressional investigation revealed retaliation and bullying. Coast Guard senior leaders said they formed a working group to address recommendations from the Homeland Security inspector general and Congress. The recommendations stem from whistleblower reports of retaliation. Commandant Karl Schultz said the Coast Guard also issued new guidance that will help commands more effectively respond to whistleblower complaints. He described new anti-bullying and harassment programs as a floor, not a ceiling.
  • A federal judge ruled this weekend that the Homeland Security Department’s top official was never legally appointed. Chad Wolf has been serving in the acting secretary role for the past year. The latest case deals with Wolf’s decisions on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The court found Wolf had no authority to suspend the DACA program, since he wasn’t legally serving as the acting secretary. The Government Accountability Office has also found that neither Wolf nor Ken Cuccinelli, Wolf’s predecessor in the acting job, were properly appointed. DHS has been without a Senate-confirmed secretary since April 2019, when the president fired both Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Claire Grady, DHS’s undersecretary for management. (Federal News Network)

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