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:


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.


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 McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' 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 MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsBoehner finally calls it as he sees it Stephen Miller launching group to challenge Democrats' policies through lawsuits A year with the coronavirus: How we got here MORE about what President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? 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 


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 ManchinJoe ManchinJill Biden, Jennifer Garner go mask-free on vaccine-promoting West Virginia trip Manchin on infrastructure: 'We're gonna find a bipartisan pathway forward' Senate panel advances Biden's deputy Interior pick 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. 


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


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 MatsuiHillicon Valley: US, UK authorities say Russian hackers exploited Microsoft vulnerabilities | Lawmakers push for more cyber funds in annual appropriations | Google child care workers ask for transportation stipend Lawmakers push for increased cybersecurity funds in annual appropriations Overnight Health: NIH reverses Trump's ban on fetal tissue research | Biden investing .7B to fight virus variants | CDC panel to meet again Friday on J&J MORE (Calif.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers Overnight Health Care: Biden sets goal of at least one shot to 70 percent of adults by July 4 | White House to shift how it distributes unallocated vaccines to states Pressure builds for Biden to back vaccine patent waivers MORE (Ill.), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Lucille Roybal-AllardLucille Roybal-AllardTop border officials defend Biden policies House passes bills providing citizenship path for Dreamers, farmworkers Lawmakers call for action on first anniversary of Breonna Taylor's death MORE (Calif.), Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellNurses union lobbies Congress on health care bills during National Nurses Week OSHA sends draft emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 to OMB review Why the US needs a successful federal green bank MORE (Mich.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDems offer bill to help single-parent families get expanded child tax credit Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Bush testifies before Congress about racist treatment Black birthing people face during childbirth, pregnancy MORE (Mass.) and Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchPelosi: Greene's 'verbal assault' of Ocasio-Cortez could be a matter for Ethics Committee Democrats fume over silence from DeSantis on Florida election Republican, Democratic lawmakers urge fully funding US assistance to Israel 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