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Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines

Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. 

A CDC panel recommended who should get the first doses of a COVID vaccine. There may be hope yet of a COVID-19 relief deal before the end of the year, and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn met with the White House on vaccines (and downplayed it).

We’ll start with CDC:

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CDC panel says health workers, long term care residents should get COVID vaccine first

Health workers and residents of long-term care facilities should be at the front of the line to receive the first limited doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, a federal advisory panel formally recommended Tuesday.

The specific recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) were expected, as the committee has been broadly supportive of them during recent meetings. 

The recommendations passed by a vote of 13-1. 

So what's next: If CDC director Robert Redfield approves, they become official CDC recommendations. States don't necessarily have to follow the recommendations, but it gives them some much-needed guidance ahead of a Friday deadline to submit vaccination distribution plans to the federal government. States also have significant leeway to come up with their own definitions, and even create separate sub-prioritization groups. 

Who is left out: It's hard to argue that health workers and long term care residents shouldn't be first in line. But because there will be so few doses available initially, difficult choices are needed. Once the recommendations are adopted, it will mean other high priority groups, like people older than 65, essential workers, and those with underlying medical conditions will have to wait for the second phase, or later. 

There's still no vaccine available: No vaccine has been authorized for distribution yet, but a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is set to meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the one manufactured by Pfizer. The agency could issue an emergency authorization within days of the meeting, and shots are expected to be sent to states within 24 hours of authorization.

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Read more here.

McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill after talks with Mnuchin, Meadows

There’s been a flurry of activity on the coronavirus relief front after weeks of not much happening…..but it’s still not clear there will be any agreement. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE (R-Ky.) is starting to circulate a new coronavirus relief proposal that could garner support from the White House among Senate Republicans. 

McConnell, during a press conference on Tuesday, said he had been speaking with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he's open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on bill Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTrump ex-chief says Senate vote signals impeachment effort 'dead on arrival' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day Trump leaves White House, promises to be back in 'some form' MORE about what President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE could sign.

“I think we have a sense of what that is. ... We’re going to send that out to all the offices and get some feedback to see how our members react,” McConnell said. 

“We don’t have time for messaging games. We don’t have time for lengthy negotiations,” McConnell added.

Other proposals: A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers also introduced a $908 billion bill earlier Tuesday though they didn’t have buy in from leadership or the White House.

McConnell appeared to pour cold water on using that proposal as a starting point though. 

“We just don’t have time to waste time,” McConnell responded. 

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders have made their own new (private) proposal to Republicans, and said they are waiting to hear back. 

Read more here.  

About that other proposal… 

Bipartisan, bicameral group unveils $908 billion coronavirus proposal 

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The measure, rolled out by more than a dozen members from the House and Senate, comes as cases are climbing across the country and Congress is running out of time to clinch a long-stalled fifth relief bill with lawmakers scheduled to leave for the year as soon as next week.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives McConnell: Sinema told me she won't nix the filibuster The Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis MORE (D-W.Va.) said it would be "inexcusable" for Congress to leave town for the year without providing more coronavirus relief with a slew of assistance programs set to expire within weeks.

"This is a COVID emergency relief framework," Manchin said. "It's not the time for political brinkmanship. ... This is going to get us through the most difficult times."

The bill, according to a framework released on Tuesday, would provide another $160 billion for states and cities — a top priority for Democrats — $180 billion for unemployment insurance and $288 billion for more small business assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The unemployment benefits would break down to $300 a week for 18 weeks, retroactive to Dec. 1. That’s half of the $600 per week included under the CARES Act from late March.

It also includes billions in assistance for transportation-related industries like airlines, $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution and more money for things like schools, child care and the Postal Service.

Read more here. 

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Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn downplayed a meeting Tuesday with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, saying he was merely updating the administration on the COVID-19 vaccine authorization process.

Axios reported Monday that Meadows summoned Hahn to the West Wing for a morning meeting to explain why emergency use authorization (EUA) for Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine has not been approved faster.

Following the meeting Tuesday, Hahn spoke with ABC News medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton on Instagram Live, telling her that he was updating the White House regarding the EUA process. He added the content of the meeting was no different than the subjects discussed in their interview.

On the horizon: The FDA has scheduled a meeting for Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer and BioNtech's request for authorization.

He said the FDA conditionally "should" be relatively quick with the authorization process following the meeting, but underscored that "one thing we can't do is promise something that isn't deliverable because of an issue that comes up regarding safety or effectiveness."

Read more here

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Coronavirus was present in US earlier than initially thought: CDC scientists

The coronavirus was in the U.S. as early as mid-December 2019, a period earlier than officially identified in either China or the U.S., according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study, published Monday, found evidence of the virus in 106 of 7,389 blood donations to the Red Cross in nine states.

These donations were collected between Dec. 13, 2019, and Jan. 17, 2020, with the Red Cross later submitting them to the CDC to test for antibodies.

Antibodies were detected in 39 samples on the West Coast in Washington, Oregon and California, all of them collected between Dec. 13 and 16. Antibodies were detected in another 67 samples in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Those samples were collected between Dec. 30 and Jan. 17.

Researchers said the antibodies were specific to COVID-19 and that they had ruled out other coronaviruses. COVID-19-specific antibodies were detected in 84 of 90 samples tested.

Read more here

House Dems ask Biden task force to add geriatrician

A group of House Democrats is asking the Biden coronavirus task force to add a geriatrician to its ranks, saying that the risks of COVID-19 to elderly people deserve a particular focus. 

“Americans over the age of 65 account for more than 80% of COVID-19 deaths,” the Democrats write in the letter to the leaders of Biden’s coronavirus advisory board. “The risk of severe illness, hospitalization or dying when diagnosed with COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at the highest risk. With this in mind, the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging & Families respectfully requests that a geriatrician or expert in aging services be appointed to the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board to specifically address the disproportionate impact and unique challenges that COVID-19 has on Older Americans.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiOvernight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines Cyberattack forces shutdown of Baltimore County schools for the day Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg and Dorsey return for another hearing | House passes 5G funding bill | Twitter introduces 'fleets' MORE (Calif.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyExisting technology can eliminate drunk driving There's no excuse for the government to put dangerous cars on the road Freshman GOP lawmaker apologizes for Hitler quote MORE (Ill.), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardOvernight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Democratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief MORE (Calif.), Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellExisting technology can eliminate drunk driving Democrats to levy fines on maskless lawmakers on House floor Growing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege MORE (Mich.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyBelfast's Troubles echo in today's Washington Federal government carries out 13th and final execution under Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (Mass.) and Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchHouse Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump This week: Congress poised to buy more time on spending, coronavirus talks MORE (Fla.). 

Read the letter here

 What we’re reading 

The PPE crisis didn’t go away: communities are struggling to get supplies (STAT)

When coronavirus vaccines are ready, dentists, optometrists may give shots (Kaiser Health News)

Appalachia’s hospital closures are a slow-motion health emergency (thenation.com)

State by state

States with few coronavirus restrictions are spreading the virus beyond their borders (ProPublica)

Texas must boost coronavirus control efforts amid "full resurgence" of infections, White House report says (Texas Tribune

These four states have been hit hard by COVID-19 yet balked at strict mask mandates. What is it like to live there? (USA Today