Overnight Health Care: Trump hits road to tout progress toward vaccine | First phase 3 test of coronavirus vaccine candidate begins in US | Senate GOP proposing second round of $1,200 stimulus checks

Overnight Health Care: Trump hits road to tout progress toward vaccine | First phase 3 test of coronavirus vaccine candidate begins in US | Senate GOP proposing second round of $1,200 stimulus checks
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Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care.

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE's meeting with pharma execs isn't happening, but he is touting the administration's progress on a vaccine. Moderna is set to begin its Phase 3 trial, and Tennessee and Kentucky have very different reactions to the White House recommendations about closing bars.

We'll start with Trump:


Trump hits road to tout progress toward vaccine

President Trump and Vice President Pence hit the road on Monday to highlight progress on the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, seeking to project optimism about the administration's response to a pandemic that has killed more than 145,000 people in the U.S.

Trump visited a biotech facility in North Carolina that is producing a vaccine developed by Novavax, while Pence headed to Miami with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn to highlight the progress made by Moderna.

The visits highlight the administration's attempt to shift the narrative from Trump's failures in responding to the pandemic to instead focus on his efforts to deliver a vaccine in record time — possibly before November. 

Trump spoke optimistically about the prospects for a vaccine that experts have cautioned may not be widely available for another year, and he made scant mention of the rising number of cases most states are seeing. 

The White House view: Trump has pinned his hopes for a quick economic bounce back and return to normalcy from the pandemic on the rapid development of a vaccine. Experts have expressed optimism about the chances of having more than one approved vaccine by early 2021.

Reality: But a vaccine is not going to be a magic bullet. The initial vaccine may not be as effective as some are hoping — it could reduce the severity of illness, but not totally prevent infection. And it may not be widely available to the general public until several months into 2021. 


Read more here.

Speaking of Moderna: First phase 3 test of coronavirus vaccine candidate begins in US

An investigational vaccine developed by drugmaker Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases began phase three trials on Monday, becoming the first U.S. candidate to reach that step in testing.

The vaccine will be tested in 30,000 participants: half will get a placebo, and half will be dosed with the vaccine.

The vaccine will require two doses, administered several weeks apart. It's unclear how long it will take to see a clear picture of success or failure.

Several drug manufacturers, including Moderna, are receiving support from the federal government through its Operation Warp Speed program, with the company announcing Sunday that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has provided $472 million more for the phase three study and later development, for a total of $955 million thus far.

Read more here.

Senate GOP proposing second round of $1,200 stimulus checks

Senate Republicans are proposing a second round of stimulus checks as part of a coronavirus relief proposal they unveiled on Monday.

The GOP package would provide a $1,200 check to individuals who make up to $75,000 per year or a $2,400 check for married couples who make up to $150,000, according to details from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBiden's program for migrant children doesn't go far enough The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure 64 percent of Iowans say 'time for someone else' to hold Grassley's Senate seat: poll MORE (R-Iowa).

Those amounts would then be scaled down until an income threshold of $99,000 for an individual or $198,000 for married couples is reached.

The language largely mirrors the March-passed coronavirus bill. Like the CARES Act, Republicans are proposing an additional $500 per dependent.

Unlike the March bill, dependents of any age would qualify for an additional $500 check.

Read more here.


Related: Republicans want to send second round of PPP loans to smaller, hard-hit businesses

About that drug pricing meeting on Tuesday….

A White House meeting with pharmaceutical executives that President Trump said would occur on Tuesday is now off, people familiar with the matter said.

A pharmaceutical industry source said that "there was concern that this would not have been a productive meeting" and that companies are still discussing how to move forward after Trump signed a series of executive orders on Friday taking aim at drug prices.

Trump had announced during Friday's signing ceremony that there would be a meeting at the White House with industry executives on Tuesday, which he said would give drug companies a chance to propose an alternative to one of his executive orders. Drug companies, however, never publicly confirmed that they would attend the meeting.

The White House on Monday indicated it was still interested in having the meeting, but it appears executives do not want to move forward, at least not yet.

"The White House has been more than accommodating in attempts to schedule this meeting," a White House official said.


Read more here.

Kentucky orders bars to close, restaurants to reduce indoor capacity

All bars in Kentucky will be shut down for the next two weeks in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced Monday.

The move, effective Tuesday, marks the second time that bars have been shut in the state and comes amid a major uptick in coronavirus cases. 

Indoor dining at restaurants will be reduced to 25 percent capacity, Beshear said. Outdoor seating can remain at full capacity as long as physical distancing is enforced, and everyone needs to be seated.

The state has recorded nearly 12,000 COVID-19 cases in July, almost double the number of positive cases in June. 

"The line and the trend is undeniable," Beshear said in a press conference. 


He announced 522 new positive cases of COVID-19, raising the seven-day positivity rate to 5.58 percent. 

Beshear's moves are backed by the Trump administration. 

His announcement comes after he and health leaders in Kentucky met on Sunday with Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, who recommended that the state close bars and curtail restaurant capacity. 

Read more here.

Tennessee governor shoots down Birx recommendation to close bars 

But the reaction in neighboring Tennessee was vastly different. 

Despite facing rising coronavirus infections, Gov. Bill Lee (R) shot down White House adviser Deborah Birx’s recommendation to close bars and limit indoor seating at restaurants during a joint press conference on Monday.

Birx made her recommendation to shut down bars and limit indoor dining during the press conference, warning that Tennessee was on the verge of rapid COVID-19 spread.

“It is at this very moment where we could change the trajectory of the epidemic before it goes into full of what we call logarithmic spread, as we’ve seen across the South,” Birx said.

But shortly after Birx spoke, Lee said he had no interest in doing any of what Birx recommended; he would not close bars, limit indoor dining or even give county officials the authority to be able to do so. 

Only a few areas are able to close businesses without the governor's approval.

“Beyond the regions that currently have restrictions, that's not a plan for us now. I’ve said from the very beginning of this pandemic that there’s nothing off the table,” Lee said. “I’ve also said that we are not going to close the economy back down, and we are not going to. But I appreciate their recommendations and we take them seriously.”

Read more here 

American Resilience: The Future of Small Business—Thursday, July 30

Small businesses are fundamental to the idea of America. What steps should be taken to ensure that businesses that really need the help are receiving aid, particularly minority-owned businesses that are often overlooked? On Thursday, July 30, The Hill Virtually Live hosts a discussion on public and private efforts to support America’s entrepreneurs featuring Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWhite House advisers huddle with Senate moderates on infrastructure Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans MORE and Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Fresh hurdles push timeline on getting China bill to Biden READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE. RSVP today.

What we're reading

The US sees early signs that new coronavirus cases may have hit a plateau (CNN)

The doctor behind the disputed Covid data (New York Times)

Employers require COVID liability waivers as conflict mounts over workplace safety (Kaiser Health News)

Covid-19 vaccines may cause mild side effects, experts say, stressing need for education, not alarm (Stat News)

State by state

New Jersey gym owners arrested after defying coronavirus order: 'We will not be backing down' (CNBC)

States with stricter covid-19 restrictions watch lax neighbors warily, knowing the virus does not respect borders (Washington Post)

Joseph Costa, ICU doctor at Mercy Medical Center, dies of coronavirus (Baltimore Sun)  

Op-eds in the Hill 

Publicly funded vaccines must be priced fairly and available for all

The integrity of science is vital — politics cannot interfere