The Hill's Coronavirus Report: HHS Secretary Azar says US plans to have tens of millions of vaccine doses this fall; Kremlin allegedly trying to hack vaccine research

The Hill's Coronavirus Report: HHS Secretary Azar says US plans to have tens of millions of vaccine doses this fall; Kremlin allegedly trying to hack vaccine research


> US seven-day average of new infections increases for 37th consecutive day 

> US, UK, Canada allege Russia trying to hack COVID-19 vaccine researchers

> Johnson & Johnson hopes to begin late-stage vaccine trial in September

> Fauci: ‘Bizarre’ White House behavior only hurts the president 

> White House move to bypass CDC on coronavirus data garners widespread criticism 

> Republicans, blaming pandemic, scale back Jacksonville convention plans

> USA Today adds note to Navarro op-ed knocking Fauci: Did not meet fact-checking standards

> June retail sales jump 7.5 percent, beating expectations; weekly jobless claims remain above 1 million

> HHS Secretary Azar says US government compressing timelines on safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines, plans to have tens of millions of vaccine doses this fall and hundreds of millions early 2021, says US not collaborating with China in any direct way on US vaccine or therapeutic manufacturing


Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says U.S. government compressing timelines on safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines, plans to have tens of millions of vaccine doses this fall and hundreds of millions early 2021, says U.S. not collaborating with China in any direct way on US vaccine or therapeutic manufacturing, adds that any administration efforts to replace ObamaCare will “absolutely” cover preexisting conditions, says telehealth is an effective health delivery platform that will stay with us.





Watch the full interview here.


Welcome to The Hill's Coronavirus Report. It's Thursday, July 16.

Editors' Note. 


One of the inset headlines of a new report, National COVID-19 Testing and Tracing Action Plan, issued Thursday by the Rockefeller Foundation reads:


America faces an impending disaster. The extraordinary scale of the COVID-19 crisis is evident in the growing deaths and economic losses the pandemic has wrought in every state. Devastated minority and low-income families bore the brunt of those costs. As the virus tore across the country, it exposed the structural inequities that have underpinned and undermined our economy for decades. And it will only worsen during fall’s cold and flu season.


But a tale of two worlds, two takes on the crisis, two ways gravity is working differently in America — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has overridden all local mask ordinances that are more stringent than his state’s guidance.  


While many political leaders are chasing their tails in this crisis, the fact is that somehow residents, schools, businesses, churches and every other kind of functioning organization or assembly out there needs a sensible path back. From my perspective, the Rockefeller Foundation report offers a very sensible, comprehensive path. Read it.  


The key goals in the report are:


  1. Ensure diagnostic and screening testing is free and available to all Americans.
  2. Address the current crisis in lab-based diagnostic testing through wartime like measures by the federal and state governments, manufacturers, laboratories, and others. 
  3. Create and implement test protocols for widespread screening testing of asymptomatic people to keep our schools, workplaces and communities open.
  4. Support the development and deployment of appropriate, convenient, accurate, affordable and rapid antigen tests required for implementing screening test protocols
  5. Create a broad-based national COVID-19 Communications Coalition to develop and implement ways to promote testing, tracing and safety measures such as masks and social distancing. 
  6. Improve the speed and effectiveness of contact tracing at the local level and make self-isolation and quarantining more practical with proper public support for lost wages and other necessary services. 
  7. Improve data infrastructure and reporting and expand the utilization of data to drive performance and improve decision-making.


There is a lot in this report, and the costs of getting all of this done are a drop in the bucket compared to a fully paralyzed society and to hundreds of thousands of more deaths, and safety uncertainty in our nation at every turn. 


Kemp is telling his local communities in Georgia that ordinances that call for wearing masks in public places are “unenforceable.” But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield has also said that if everyone in the nation wore a mask for three weeks, the coronavirus would be practically extinguished and under control.


Kemp and others need to stop figuring out how to triangulate in the gray areas and figure out how they are going to rid their communities of this virus. What the Rockefeller Foundation has offered goes a long way toward that and would be worth a bit of the governor’s and his team’s time.


– Steve Clemons


Your Coronavirus Report team includes Steve Clemons, editor-at-large of The Hill, and researcher Andrew Wargofchik. Follow us on Twitter at @SCClemons and @a_wargofchik


Click here to subscribe to The Hill’s Coronavirus Report

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Advancing America’s Economy: The Role of Private Capital | July 21, 2020


Private capital can play a substantial role in job creation and can help give businesses across nearly every sector strategic leaps forward. But a trustworthy partnership between private equity and the public must be established. Join The Hill on Tuesday, July 21, for Advancing America's Economy: The Role of Private Capital. Reps. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyRaising the required minimum distribution age for America's seniors Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet Democrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise MORE (D-Fla.) and Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) and more will join The Hill's editor-at-large Steve Clemons. 

REGISTER HERE! Have a question for our speakers? Tweet us @TheHillEvents using #TheHillInvests for a chance to have your question featured live in the program.


There are 13,637,917 reported cases of COVID-19 across the globe and 585,906 deaths have been attributed to the virus as of the time of this newsletter. 


The U.S. is reporting 3,499,771 cases and 137,846 deaths. Brazil 1,966,748. India 968,876. Russia 751,612. Peru 337,751. Chile 321,205. Mexico 317,635. South Africa 311,049. U.K. 293,469. Iran 267,061. Pakistan 257,914. Spain 257,494. Italy 243,506. Saudi Arabia 243,238. Turkey 215,940. France 210,568. Germany 201,288. 


Elsewhere throughout the world: 

> India reported a single-day record of 32,695 new infections on Thursday, as the country’s total caseload neared 1 million.

> Imported infections continued to rise in South Korea, making up 47 of the 61 new cases recorded Thursday.

> Tokyo was expected to report a single-day record of more than 280 new cases on Thursday, Japan’s national broadcaster reported.

> Hong Kong on Thursday reported its highest daily number of cases since the outbreak began in January.

> The Chinese economy recovered more quickly than expected and is starting to grow again, according to data released Thursday. 


New York is reporting 404,775 cases. California 355,046. Florida 315,775. Texas 292,336. New Jersey 176,501. Illinois 157,825. Arizona 134,613. Georgia 127,834. Massachusetts 112,347. Pennsylvania 102,918. North Carolina 93,689. Louisiana 86,411. Michigan 78,913. Maryland 75,664. Virginia 74,431. Ohio 69,311. 


Here at home: 

> Nearly 66,000 new virus cases were reported nationwide Wednesday. It marked the 37th consecutive day that the seven-day average of new U.S. infections has trended upward. 

> Texas reported 110 deaths and 10,791 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, bringing its total number of cases during the pandemic to 282,365.

> Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued an order nullifying all local mask mandates, including one in Atlanta. 

> Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Down ballot races carry environmental implications | US officially exits Paris climate accord  GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte wins Montana governor's race Senate control in flux as counting goes forward in key states MORE (D), who is running for the Senate, has signed an executive order requiring all of the state's residents to wear masks while in public in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19.

> Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tightened restrictions on businesses Wednesday as the number of new coronavirus cases climbs in the state. 

> Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt (R) is the first U.S. governor to test positive for the virus. 

> South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is urging schools to reopen after Labor Day as coronavirus cases continue to increase across the state.

> Walmart and Starbucks became the latest major retailers to require face coverings in all U.S. locations beginning next week. 


The U.S. is reporting the results of 42,521,027 COVID-19 tests and 1,075,882 full recoveries from the virus.


Fauci: “Bizarre” White House behavior only hurts the president. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: CDC urges 'universal' indoor mask use when not at home | Pelosi bullish on COVID-19 relief | Trump largely silent on coronavirus as health officials sound the alarm Fauci warns US has not hit 'Thanksgiving peak' even as cases soar The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Fauci to serve as Biden's chief medical adviser MORE isn’t about to quit, despite the White House’s clumsy attempts to stain his public image. More so now than at any other point in their uneasy partnership, it seems that if President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE wants to be rid of Fauci, he’ll need to fire him. In recent days especially, the White House has stepped up efforts to discredit Fauci, a move he describes as “bizarre.” (The Atlantic


Public health groups denounce new Trump move sidelining CDC. A new Trump administration policy that bypasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for control of key coronavirus information is provoking outrage among public health experts. Under the policy, quietly announced late last week, hospitals are now required to report directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the number of COVID-19 patients each facility is treating, available beds and ventilators, and other data. (The Hill


Republicans scale back convention in Jacksonville due to coronavirus concerns. Republicans announced Thursday they will scale back the Republican National Convention in August as coronavirus cases rise in Florida, where President Trump is expected to deliver a speech accepting his party's nomination for reelection. Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, informed members of the decision in a letter Thursday that blamed the pandemic for the changes. (The Hill

USA Today says Navarro op-ed knocking Fauci did not meet fact-checking standards. USA Today added a note to an op-ed written by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro published by the newspaper that the Trump administration official’s op-ed criticizing Anthony Fauci didn’t meet the newspaper’s fact-checking standards. The editorial note written by USA Today editorial page editor Bill Sternberg appeared to be added to the online version of the story Wednesday evening. (The Hill)


Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Now's the time to make 'Social Emotional Learning' a national priority Mourners gather outside Supreme Court after passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE (D-Ohio) 

@RepTimRyan Wear. Your. Mask. For goodness sake. 


Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him MORE (R-Maine)
@SenatorCollins I spoke with members of Maine Preservation about ways we can strengthen the Historic Tax Credit, which supports projects that revitalize communities & boost economic development. To help manage delays caused by COVID-19, I urged Treasury to extend deadlines related to the HTC.


Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedLawmakers release compromise defense bill without Section 230 repeal Top Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' Overnight Defense: Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper | Worries grow about rudderless post-election Pentagon | Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up | Pelosi says Esper firing shows Trump intent on sowing 'chaos' MORE (D-R.I.) 

@SenJackReed Pres Trump is taking medical data away from public health professionals at 

@CDCgov & rerouting it to Trump Admin officials at HHS. This will make it even harder for researchers & health professionals to make accurate decisions & projections.


Georgia governor overrides all local mask orders in the state. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is prohibiting local municipalities across the state from mandating that masks be worn in public to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Kemp’s executive order issued Wednesday prevents local governments from enforcing mandatory face-covering orders that are more restrictive than the current statewide order. The move effectively voided orders issued by at least 15 local governments across the state, according to The Associated Press. (The Hill


In Washington state, which seemed to have beaten back the virus, the fight is on again. In what seems like almost a lifetime ago, America’s virus story started in January in Washington state, with the nation’s first confirmed case followed by an early outbreak that spread with alarming ferocity. But swift lockdown measures were credited with holding down illnesses and deaths. By June, nail salons and bars had begun to reopen, even as the virus began to rage in Arizona, Florida and Texas. Washington still had relatively low case numbers, and some counties were even contemplating a return to movie theaters and museums. Now, those plans are on hold, as the coronavirus is once again ravaging Washington. (New York Times


National Academies: Schools should “prioritize” reopening but need more funding. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said Wednesday school districts “should prioritize” reopening schools, especially for grades K-5 and students with special needs, but federal and state government must provide “substantial” new funding to school districts to help. (Washington Post)


Oklahoma governor tests positive for COVID-19. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced Wednesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The governor made the announcement during a press conference, according to a local ABC affiliate. (The Hill)


US, UK, Canada allege Russia trying to hack COVID-19 vaccine researchers. The U.S., Great Britain and Canada are alleging that Russia is attempting to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from researchers and organizations in the three countries through cyberattacks. The three allied countries allege that the hacking group known as APT29, or "Cozy Bear," which is largely believed to operate as part of Russia's security services, is conducting an "ongoing" cyber campaign to steal intellectual property about a possible COVID-19 vaccine. (The Hill


Italy bans entry from Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro due to COVID-19. Italy on Thursday banned people coming from Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro from entering its territory to prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases from the outside. “Anyone who has been in these territories in the last 14 days is prohibited from entry and transit in Italy. In the world the epidemic is in its hardest phase. We need the maximum caution to defend the progress we have made so far,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement. (Reuters





Some good news on the vaccine front — Johnson & Johnson hopes to begin late-stage vaccine trial in September. Johnson & Johnson announced it is in talks with the National Institutes of Health to begin its late-stage human trial for a potential coronavirus vaccine in late September, ahead of schedule. J&J is also planning a phase two study in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, according to chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels. (CNBC

Rockefeller Foundation unveils national COVID-19 testing action plan. Our National Covid-19 Testing Action Plan lays out the precise steps necessary to enact robust testing, tracing and coordination to more safely reopen our economy – starting with a dramatic expansion of testing from 1 million tests per week to initially 3 million per week and then 30 million per week, backed by an Emergency Network for COVID-19 Testing to coordinate and underwrite the testing market, a public-private testing technology accelerator, and a national initiative to rapidly expand and optimize the use of U.S., university and local lab capacity.  (The Rockefeller Foundation)


June retail sales jump 7.5 percent, beating expectations. Retail sales in June rose 7.5 percent, according to Commerce Department figures released Thursday, beating expectations of a roughly 5 percent increase from May. (The Hill


Weekly jobless claims tick down, but remain above 1 million. Roughly 1.3 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits during the second week of July, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. While initial jobless claims continued their steady decline since mid-April, they still remain well above pre-pandemic averages despite two consecutive months of net job gains. (The Hill

Pandemic drives Domino’s soaring U.S. same-store sales. As more consumers ordered pizza for delivery and takeout during the pandemic, Domino’s U.S. same-store sales jumped by 16.1 percent. (CNBC


Americans want evidence and data to drive COVID-19 decisions — they don't believe it's happening. Americans, it turns out, really like data — and want our politicians to use it, too. The COVID-19 crisis appears to have prompted a spike in American’s interest in data. We track daily counts of new coronavirus cases and compare positive results to the number of tests administered. We monitor the share of beds filled in local hospitals. Each Thursday, we wait for the U.S. Department of Labor to report how many people applied for unemployment insurance — and we follow updates on how many loans have been distributed through the Paycheck Protection Program. All told, we are using and monitoring data in an unprecedented fashion. (Benjamin Harris and Kate Tromble for The Hill


Listening to Trump gave Sun Belt governors a new COVID-19 headache. The temperatures are soaring this week in seven Sun Belt states of Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Texas, South Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee. So are the number of new cases of COVID-19, and the pro-Trump Republican governors of these states have much to answer for. (James D. Zirin for The Hill)


Meet Clifford, one of the dogs being taught to detect coronavirus infection in Chile. Until now, Clifford's job has been to sniff out illicit drugs, explosives and lost people. He's now putting his nose to use to try and identify the possible presence of the virus by smelling sweat samples taken from subjects who were infected with COVID-19. (BBC)


> Steve interviews The Hill’s REID WILSON 

> Steve interviews Washington, D.C., Mayor MURIEL BOWSER 

> Steve interviews American Federation of Teachers President RANDI WEINGARTEN 

> Steve interviews NIAID Director ANTHONY FAUCI

> Steve interviews former New Jersey Gov. CHRIS CHRISTIE 

> Steve interviews Soapbox CEO and co-Founder DAVID SIMNICK 

Watch all Coronavirus Report interviews here.


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