The Hill's 12:30 Report: Drug companies inch closer to COVID-19 vaccine

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The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Pfizer begins human trial of vaccine | New death toll projections highlight challenges of reopening | 15 NYC children develop ‘puzzling’ inflammatory condition | Capitol adjusts to new norm | Rep. Ratcliffe testifies to be director of national intelligence | Trump visits Phoenix |  ‘Hamilton’ D.C. performances postponed

 

NEWS THIS MORNING

One step closer to a vaccine:

 

 

Via The Hill’s Peter Sullivan, “Pfizer and the German company BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have begun human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine.” https://bit.ly/3fmRt6k

The first stage: “The first stage of the trial will involve up to 360 people, testing measures like whether the vaccine is safe and what the right dosage level is.”

To hopefully speed up the process: “Pfizer and BioNTech are actually testing four vaccine candidates at the same time, all different versions of what is known as an mRNA vaccine. The companies hope testing all four vaccines will allow the process to move faster by seeing which one works the best.”

Interesting tidbit — a vaccine may be manufactured before it’s been approved: “The companies are already preparing to ramp up production of the potential vaccine. Experts say that a key step in speeding up the process is starting to manufacture the vaccine even before it is clear whether it works.”  

Keep in mind: Other companies are also actively working on a COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s Tuesday — today is Cinco de Mayo!  I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com  — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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WHERE THINGS STAND

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 1,181,885

Deaths in the U.S.: 69,079

Breakdown of the numbershttps://cnn.it/2UAgW3y

15 NYC CHILDREN HAVE AN UNUSUAL INFLAMMATORY CONDITION:

Fifteen children have developed a potentially dangerous inflammatory condition that may be linked to the coronavirus.  What we knowhttps://wapo.st/3dnE63F

THE PLAN TO REOPEN NEW YORK:

Here is New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo calls on wealthy to return to New York City: 'You got to come back!' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal Cuomo to serve as National Association of Governors chair MORE’s (D) plan to reopen his state: https://nyti.ms/3fl7CJj

THE TARGET OF CORONAVIRUS PROTESTS:

Via The Hill’s Reid Wilson, conservative protesters are taking aim at scientists and elites. https://bit.ly/2WtkiFn

ON CAPITOL HILL

Interesting read — what it’s like for senators to be back in Washington:

Via Politico’s Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “The Capitol is stirring to life after being hobbled for weeks by the coronavirus pandemic. But the halls are mostly empty, and the anxiety pulsing through the United States is reflected in the altered rhythms of Congress. Everyone is adjusting to a new normal.” https://politi.co/2YyAXKp

What it’s normally like on the Senate floor: “The Senate is a social institution by nature, a group of 100 members who spend hours each month milling around on the Senate floor during votes. Monday evenings are known as a ‘bed check’ vote when leaders in both parties can take the temperature of their members on the pressing issues of the day during a noncontroversial roll call.” 

^ And now: “The coronavirus changed all that. Sure, the vote to confirm a new inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was 87-0. But most senators voted with speed on Monday evening, casting their vote and then quickly walking off the floor without the usual back-patting and breeze-shooting.” 

The full storyhttps://politi.co/2YyAXKp

Happening today — John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeHillicon Valley: Google extending remote work policy through July 2021 | Intel community returns final Russia report to Senate committee after declassification | Study finds election officials vulnerable to cyberattacks Intel community returns final Russia report volume to Senate after declassification review Hillicon Valley: Feds warn hackers targeting critical infrastructure | Twitter exploring subscription service | Bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena power MORE finally testifies:

Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee today to be President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE’s next director of national intelligence. https://bit.ly/2A2JTgT

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns Senate Intel panel approves final Russia report, moves toward public release MORE (D-Va.) said in a statement: “While I am willing to give Mr. Ratcliffe the benefit of the doubt in the hearing, I don’t see what has changed since last summer, when the President decided not to proceed with this nomination over concerns regarding his inexperience, partisanship, and past statements that seemed to embellish his record – including some particularly damaging remarks about whistleblowers, which has long been a bipartisan cause on our committee.”

WHAT A SOCIAL DISTANCING HEARING LOOKS LIKE:

 

 

Full size photohttps://bit.ly/3b5jxb0

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-N.C.) HAS RETURNED WITH A BEARD:

 

Hyperlink https://bit.ly/2L4j7a0

Burr explains why he has a beard: “Burr says, ‘Some might wonder my face might look a little hairy’ and says it is a tribute to the late Senator Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnInspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 Congress must protect federal watchdogs Tom Coburn's annual gift to taxpayers MORE, who used to grow a beard when Congress was on breaks from Washington.” (Via Reuters’ Patricia Zengerlehttps://bit.ly/2L3L2a8

HOW REOPENING THE CAPITOL HAS BECOME A PARTISAN ISSUE:

https://bit.ly/3fj7g5Y

IN THE SUPREME COURT

This week, livestreamed oral arguments. ... Next week, a Supreme Court TikTok?!:

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments by teleconference this week amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Today’s case: USAID v. Alliance For Open Society International, Inc

The gist: “In 2013 The Supreme Court held that the First Amendment barred Congress from requiring US nongovernmental organizations from receiving federal funds to fight HIV, if the groups did not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. Now, the Court will revisit whether Congress can impose the restriction on foreign affiliates of US nongovernmental organizations.” https://cnn.it/2L0U3ka

Livestream of today’s hearing — it started at 11 a.m. EDThttps://cs.pn/2Yygsxw

To better understand the case: The National Constitution Center is holding a panel discussion on the case. Livestream from C-SPANhttps://cs.pn/2L4CtvI

HOW YESTERDAY’S FIRST-EVER TELECONFERENCE ORAL ARGUMENT WENT:

Via The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes, “The Supreme Court’s first teleconference oral argument went off relatively smoothly Monday, and its orderly round of questioning was enough to entice Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Biden VP possible next week; Meadows says relief talks 'miles apart' Hawley will only back Supreme Court picks who have said Roe v. Wade was 'wrongly decided' Should we judge judges by whether their decisions appeal to us? MORE, who usually asks none.” https://wapo.st/3b71d0Q

IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Trump’s coronavirus projections have been a bit controversial:

Via The Hill’s Niall Stanage, “President Trump is mired in controversy over projections about the total number of deaths from COVID-19.” https://bit.ly/35B1uIg 

From critics: “His detractors accuse him of pulling figures out of thin air, giving the nation false hope and seeking to boost his reelection odds.”

From supporters: “Trump’s defenders, however, assert he is simply fulfilling the traditional role of a president in trying to bolster morale during a crisis.”

How this could play outhttps://bit.ly/35B1uIg

KEEP IN MIND:

An internal projection by the Trump administration is suggesting that U.S. deaths will grow to 3,000 a day by June. The full reporthttps://nyti.ms/2L69xDu

HOW THE NEW DEATH TOLL PROJECTIONS HIGHLIGHT THE CHALLENGES OF REOPENING:

https://bit.ly/3dnF6or

NOTABLE TWEETS:

Throwback:

Watchhttps://bit.ly/2zfoAbG

 

ON TAP:

The Senate is in. The House is out. President Trump is in Phoenix. today and Vice President Pence is in Washington, D.C.

10 a.m. EDT: President Trump left the White House for Phoenix.

11 a.m. EDT: The Senate meets. The Senate’s full schedule todayhttps://bit.ly/3dhdFwI

11:30 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence led a White House Coronavirus Task Force Meeting in the Situation Room.

2 p.m. EDT: President Trump participates in a roundtable discussion on supporting Native Americans.

3:15 p.m. EDT: President Trump tours the Honeywell International Inc. Mask Production Assembly Line in Phoenix.

3:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump gives remarks at the Honeywell International Inc. Mask Production Facility.

9:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump arrives at the White House.

WHAT TO WATCH:

10:30 a.m. EDT: The House’s pro forma session. Livestreamhttps://cs.pn/2ywhE9N

11:30 a.m. EDT: Gov. Cuomo gave an update on his state’s coronavirus response. Livestreamhttps://bit.ly/3fjiQOF

IN LIGHTER NEWS...:

Today is National Hoagie Day.

Postponed:

Via The Washington Post’s Peggy McGlone, “Washington’s 14-week run of ‘Hamilton’ is the latest casualty of the coronavirus-related closures, as the Kennedy Center announced Monday that it will remain shuttered through at least Aug. 8.” https://wapo.st/3cd526o

The scheduled dates: From June 16 through Sept. 20.  “Kennedy Center executives are working with the musical’s producers to reschedule.”

And because you made it this far, here’s a kangaroo who wants belly rubs: https://bit.ly/2yyn3NN