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!

Pandemic Milestone: Half of US Adults Receive at Least One Covid-19 Shot

On Sunday, the CDC reported the United States has hit the 50% mark on Covid-19 vaccinations. 50.4% of U.S. adults 18 and over have received at least one dose of a vaccine. The number of adults fully vaccinated is a little more than half that, at 32.5%. The Associated Press reports that the U.S. vaccination rate stands at 61.6 doses administered per 100 people, slightly below the leading countries of United Arab Emirates, Chile, and the United Kingdom — but leading countries with at least 5 million people.

Meanwhile, experts are urging government leadership to focus on communities where vaccine hesitancy is high. “It has always been a race between the vaccines and the variants, and hesitancy just slows down that vaccine leg,” epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed told CNN. Data shows that highly contagious variants and younger age groups are now driving Covid-19 outbreaks in the United States. The Biden Administration is pledging $1.7 billion in federal funds to help states sequence Covid-19 and trace variant infections.

U.S. Government Moves on N95 Mask Regulations

After multiple requests form healthcare workers and the mask-making industry, federal officials are working to get N95 masks into the hands of front-line workers. Mask-makers have complained of millions of N95 masks going unused in their warehouses, while hospital groups urge lawmakers to continue limiting what workers are allowed to use N95 masks. Mask-makers say that hospitals are purchasing in bulk from China, rather than buying U.S.-made masks which could fill the gaps in imports.

The CDC is changing N95 guidelines to allow the respirators to be sold in bulk to employers outside of health workers. Industries which could benefit from Access to N95 masks could benefit bus drivers, meatpacking employees, and workers on crowded manufacturing floors, according to KHN. Additionally, the FDA is requesting healthcare providers end the disinfection and reuse of N95 masks, a practice permitted under emergency guidelines since 2020.

Lyft Opens Nonemergency Medical Transport Service 

Lyft is opening its corporate program, Lyft Pass, to healthcare plans including Medicare and Medicaid, allowing users to request rides to their medical appointments, prescription pickups, and other health-related needs. The program follows a study which found providing Lyft rides to patients with transportation barriers improved medical appointment access and quality of life. Healthcare organizations will be able to set parameters for program usage, allowing them to manage spend and provide approved locations for patients. Read more at FierceHealthcare.

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