Overnight Health Care: US passes 400,000 coronavirus deaths | How Biden HHS pick could make history | De Blasio says NYC will run out of COVID-19 vaccine this week

Overnight Health Care: US passes 400,000 coronavirus deaths | How Biden HHS pick could make history | De Blasio says NYC will run out of COVID-19 vaccine this week
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Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care.

On President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE's last full day in office, the U.S. passed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths. Biden announced Rachel Levine will be the new HHS assistant secretary, and New York City is running out of COVID-19 vaccines. 

We'll start with the death toll:


US passes 400,000 coronavirus deaths

The United States on Tuesday passed 400,000 deaths from COVID-19, a stunning total that is only climbing as the crisis deepens. 

The country is now averaging more than 3,000 coronavirus deaths every day, according to Johns Hopkins University data, more than the number of people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and the daily death toll has been rising. The effects of a surge in gatherings and travel over the holidays are now coming into focus. 

The grim milestone of 400,000 deaths came on the last full day in office for President Trump, who has long rejected criticism of his handling of the pandemic.

And it’s going to get worse: President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year MORE’s incoming CDC director, Rochelle WalenskyRochelle WalenskyOvernight Health Care: Senate to vote on .9 trillion relief bill this week | J&J vaccine rollout begins | CDC warns against lifting restrictions 41 percent say they are not willing to receive coronavirus vaccine CDC director warns states against lifting COVID-19 restrictions MORE, said Sunday on CBS's “Face the Nation” that she expects 500,000 COVID-19 deaths by the middle of February. 

“I think we still have some dark weeks ahead,” she said.

Flashback: At the end of March, as the crisis was beginning, Trump said that if deaths were limited to between 100,000 and 200,000 “we all, together, have done a very good job.” The country has long ago exceeded those numbers. 


Read more here.


Biden HHS pick Rachel Levine would make history as first openly transgender Senate-confirmed federal official

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday named Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), a nominee who could make history by becoming the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed federal official.

“Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a statement.

“She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts,” he added.

Levine is a physician and professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine and has been leading the state’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. She was confirmed three times by the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state Senate.

Read more here


De Blasio: New York City will run out of COVID-19 vaccine this week without resupply

New York City is going to run out of coronavirus vaccine doses this week and will have to cancel appointments unless they receive more, Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioNY House Democrat calls for Cuomo to resign after latest allegation Third woman accuses Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances Clinton: Allegations against Cuomo 'raise serious questions,' deserve probe MORE (D) said Tuesday.

The city is aiming to vaccinate 300,000 people this week, but only has 92,000 doses on hand. More than 450,000 doses have been administered to date. 

"We will have literally nothing left to give as of Friday," de Blasio said.  If the city doesn't get a resupply, they will have to close vaccination sites and cancel all appointments after Thursday.

Unless the federal government or the state steps in, the city won't get resupplied until next Tuesday.


"We have the ability to vaccinate a huge number of people. We need the vaccine to go with it," de Blasio said.

Common complaint: De Blasio is the latest in a growing number of state and local officials calling on the federal government to allocate more doses. The officials have spoken about unpredictable shipments each week, and a lack of clear communication from the Trump administration. 

The situation has resulted in chaos, as states and hospitals are left scrambling to figure out just how many doses they have and how best to administer them.

Read more here.


Moderna says it's investigating reported allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna said Tuesday that it is investigating reported allergic reactions from one batch of its COVID-19 vaccine after California recommended pausing vaccinations.


State epidemiologist Erica Pan recommended on Sunday that health care providers pause administering doses from lot 041L20A while the state investigates a “higher-than-usual number of possible allergic reactions” that were reported with doses that were administered at a community vaccination clinic. 

In a statement on Tuesday, Moderna said it “acknowledges receiving a report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) several individuals at one vaccination center in San Diego were treated for possible allergic reactions after vaccination” from the lot.

The company said it’s unaware of “comparable clusters” of adverse events from other vaccination centers that may have administered doses from the same lots.

Read more here. 


What we’re reading

The Trump presidency is over, and Obamacare is still alive (Vox.com)


Elderly begin to drop out of Novavax vaccine trial to get Pfizer and Moderna shots (Washington Post)

Dr. Scott Gottlieb estimates only about 120 million people in U.S. really want Covid vaccine (CNBC)

New CDC director pledges to speed vaccination, restore trust in agency (Wall Street Journal)


State by state

Without Planned Parenthood, Texas on Medicaid struggle to find health care (Texas Tribune

Newsom administration gave far less COVID-19 relief cash to smaller communities, audit finds (LA Times)

California is overriding its limits on nurse workloads as Covid surges (KQED)


Op-eds in The Hill

With vaccine limitations, will COVID-19 hamstring Biden?

Drug decriminalization without mandatory treatment is a flawed fix