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Overnight Health Care: Biden asked Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser | COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary

Overnight Health Care: Biden asked Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser | COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary
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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care. 

There's a renewed push for coronavirus stimulus legislation, but it's pretty clear Democrats will not be getting everything they want. One of the emerging candidates for President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE's HHS pick took herself out of the running, and Fauci had his first meeting with the former vice president.

We’ll start with Fauci, and his potentially new title:

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Biden asked Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday asked Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci was concerned people would do 'dangerous and foolish' things after Trump suggested injecting disinfectant GOP lawmaker wants to ban feds from funding collection of COVID-19 vaccine info Overnight Health Care: Biden says anyone who wants vaccine may be able to get it by spring | Moderna says vaccine effective on variants, but tests booster shot | California lifts regional stay-at-home order MORE, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, to serve as his chief medical adviser. 

Biden told CNN's Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial MORE in an interview Thursday that he asked Fauci to serve in the position in addition to staying on in his long-time role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

"I asked him to stay on the exact same role he's had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team," Biden told the network in his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisInaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models Overnight Defense: Biden lifts Trump's transgender military ban | Democrats, advocates celebrate end of ban | 5,000 guardsmen staying in DC through mid-March The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP senator retires MORE since the election. 

From the same interview: Biden to ask Americans to wear masks for first 100 days

Biden has long urged Americans to wear masks, and during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper Thursday, he put a specific time period on what his request will be.

"Just 100 days to mask, not forever. 100 days. And I think we'll see a significant reduction" in COVID-19 infections, Biden said, according to a preview of the interview that will air Thursday evening.

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Read more here.

Hope for a coronavirus relief deal? COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOklahoma man who videotaped himself with his feet on desk in Pelosi's office during Capitol riot released on bond House formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot With another caravan heading North, a closer look at our asylum law MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses McConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Budowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit MORE (R-Ky.) held talks on Thursday about reaching a COVID-19 relief deal before Christmas, with both expressing a desire to quickly pass legislation, according to a senior aide to Pelosi.

“The Speaker and Leader McConnell spoke at 12:45 p.m. today by phone about their shared commitment to completing an omnibus and COVID relief as soon as possible,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said Thursday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Pelosi told reporters “we will have an agreement” on coronavirus package funding by Dec. 11, the date government funding is set to expire.

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that additional COVID-19 relief funding would likely be added to the expected $1.4 trillion omnibus spending package that would fund the federal government beyond Dec. 11 through fiscal 2021, which ends on Sept. 30.

Shortly before that conversation, McConnell met with a group of Senate Republican moderates who support a compromise $908 billion coronavirus relief bill that would include $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, a sticking point for many conservatives, including McConnell.

Read more here

Some US/UK tension: Fauci criticizes UK's Pfizer vaccine move: 'They really rushed through that approval'

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on Thursday that the United Kingdom “really rushed through” its approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.K. approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine on Wednesday, making it the first Western nation to approve a coronavirus vaccine.

“In all fairness to so many of my U.K. friends, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined in at the last mile,” Fauci told CBS correspondent Major Garrett on “The Takeout” podcast. “I think that would be a good metaphor for it ... because they really rushed through that approval."

Fauci further said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is “the gold standard of regulation,” and applauded the agency for not rushing to approve a vaccine, which he said would only fuel skepticism about it.

“We have enough problem with people being skeptical about taking the vaccine anyway, if we had jumped over the hurdle here quickly and inappropriately to gain an extra week or a week and a half, I think that the credibility of our regulatory process would have been damaged," he said.

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Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary 

Another day, another confusing twist in the HHS Secretary saga. 

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said she is no longer in the running to become Health and Human Services Secretary for President-elect Joe Biden.

"I am not going to be President-elect Biden's nominee for HHS Secretary," Raimondo said during her weekly press conference Thursday. "My focus is right here in Rhode Island, as I have said." 

She did not offer any explanation for her remarks and did not respond to any further questions, saying she had “nothing else to add on that topic.”

Raimondo's name surfaced in recent reports as a top contender to be health secretary in the new administration. She is a second-term governor who is term limited, meaning that she cannot run again.

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However, her candidacy immediately drew fire from the left, with progressives criticizing her efforts to shield nursing homes from liability during the COVID-19 pandemic, and her previous attempts to privatize the state's Medicaid program.

Read more here.

On the West Coast, more restrictions coming in California

It's not a shutdown, and it's not a stay-at-home order, but California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomPortland mayor pepper sprays man after confrontation at restaurant Overnight Health Care: Biden says anyone who wants vaccine may be able to get it by spring | Moderna says vaccine effective on variants, but tests booster shot | California lifts regional stay-at-home order California lifts regional stay-at-home order MORE (D) really doesn't want people congregating.

So as COVID-19 cases spike and hospitalizations in the state close in on 100,000, Californians will face strict limits on in-person gatherings and shopping under new rules announced Thursday. The rules will temporarily close indoor dining, bars, playgrounds, wineries, live sports with crowds, nail and hair salons and other personal services for a three-week period. Non-essential travel in the state will also be restricted.

Schools already open will remain open, as will retail stores and malls, with a 20 percent capacity and metering restrictions. Religious institutions will be limited to outdoor services. 

Newsom is dividing the state into five regions, and the restrictions will be triggered when ICU capacity falls below 15 percent in any given area. No area has hit that threshold yet, but almost every region is expected to be there in the next day or two. The Bay Area has a little more time, but it too will be impacted before the end of the month.

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Much of the state is already under similar restrictions-- LA County, for example, has already shut both indoor and outdoor dining. And Santa Clara County unexpectedly banned contact sports, forcing the San Francisco 49ers to move their entire operation to the Phoenix area for at least the next three weeks. 

Read more here.

Virtual Event Announcement: 1:00 ET Wednesday 12/9 -- From Platform to Policy: 2021 Health Care Agenda

With the election behind us we turn our attention to the future of health care in a new political climate. As a new Congress convenes, how can we ensure our health system is ready for the challenges of the present and future? Join The Hill for a discussion with policymakers and health care stakeholders about health policy in the 117th Congress. Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyModerates vow to 'be a force' under Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief MORE, Rep. Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodNew coalition aims to combat growing wave of ransomware attacks Lawmakers call for lowering health care costs to address disparities in pandemic Overnight Health Care: First signs of Thanksgiving wave emerge | FDA says Pfizer vaccine is highly effective, even after first dose | Biden aims for 100 million vaccinations in first hundred days MORE and more.  RSVP for event reminders.

What we’re reading

What it feels like to get an mRNA coronavirus vaccine (CNN.com)

The beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic (Washington Post)

‘There absolutely will be a black market’: How the rich and privileged can skip the line for Covid-19 vaccines (Stat News)

When will Americans actually get the Covid vaccine? Officials offer different timelines. (NBC News

State by state

DC Mayor pushes Trump administration to send more coronavirus vaccines for health care workers (Washington Post

Medicaid expansion could face rocky road In Missouri legislature (KCUR)

Coronavirus causes El Paso's Sun Bowl game to be canceled for the first time in 85 years (Texas Tribune

The Hill op-eds

Facts — not fear — will stop the pandemic