Coronavirus tally: Biden administration plans to create new HHS division to lead pandemic response


The administration of President Joe Biden is planning to overhaul the federal health department and create a new independent division to lead the nation’s pandemic response, the Washington Post reported, citing seven people briefed on the plan. The move, which comes amid frustration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would elevate a 1,000-person team known as the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, or ASPR, into a separate division. The idea is to phase in the new division over two years to improve the federal government’s response to medical emergencies, whether a pandemic or the recent monkeypox outbreak. The move comes as U.S. COVID cases are rising again after being steady for several months, as the BA.5 omicron subvariant becomes dominant. BA.5 is understood to be the most transmissible variant seen so far and to have an ability to break through vaccination and cause reinfection. The daily average for new U.S. cases stood at 127,758 on Wednesday, according to a New York Times tracker, up 18% from two weeks ago. The daily average for hospitalizations rose to 41,852, up 19% in two weeks. The daily average for deaths is up 32% to 426. Globally, the confirmed case tally rose above 566.8 million on Wednesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins, while the death toll is above 6.38 million with the U.S. leading the world with 90 million cases and 1,025,741 deaths.

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