Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

Executive Orders Aim to Improve Workplace Safety, Pandemic Response

President Biden has signed an executive order addressing OSHA policies for workplace safety. In the wake of requests from healthcare worker unions to require employers to provide more protection to workers at risk of contracting COVID-19, OSHA must issue updated guidance to employers within the next two weeks. OSHA could decide to enact emergency temporary standards, which would need to be issued by March 15.

Additionally, OSHA is required to create a national program to combat violations of workplace safety standards which put high numbers of workers at risk.

Another executive order signed by President Biden will set up a pandemic testing board, which will be responsible for coordinating and enhancing testing efforts across the United States and territories. The order also establishes a Public Health Workforce Program to train public health workers who can assist with testing, contact tracing, and vaccinations, plus deal with other “urgent public health workforce needs, such as combating opioid use.”

CDC Director: “I Can’t Tell You How Much Vaccine We Have”

In an interview on Fox News, the director of the CDC shared there’s a lack of knowledge about the U.S. vaccine supply. Dr. Rochelle Walenksy said this knowledge gap is indicative of “the challenges we’ve been left with.” Other challenges include the lack of a clear plan to vaccinate the nation by the Trump administration, which began the vaccine distribution process in December 2020.

The Biden White House continues to push their goal of 100 million does in 100 days, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, told CBS’ Face the Nation, “I  think it was a reasonable goal … We always want to do better than the goal that you’ve set.”

Insurers Look to Food Coverage to Improve Medical Outlooks

Some employers and Medicaid/Medicare programs are offering meal benefits, in a new attempt to recognize food as a way to reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and prevent hospitalization. Meal vouchers, food delivery services, and cooking classes are all on the menu as insurers expand their focus on disease prevention. Research shows that at-risk patients often end up in the hospital if their food stores run low. And food delivery programs can be used to improve overall eating habits, changing the way customers think about food prep and portions. Read more at the AP.

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