As the United States continues to roll out the Pfizer vaccine for health care workers and nursing home residents, government advisers endorsed a second vaccine on Thursday. The Moderna vaccine will likely soon receive emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Meanwhile, senior government officials began receiving first doses of the vaccine.

Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams publicly received a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden will receive their vaccinations Monday, NBC News reports.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also received her first dose of the vaccine Friday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will also soon do so, according to CNBC.

Other senior government leaders are also scheduled to be vaccinated at the urging of the attending physician for Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan. His recommendation cited federal guidelines designed to ensure the U.S. government functions during the pandemic.

The vaccine campaign is offering hope in the fight against the pandemic that has infected over 17 million and killed more than 310,000 in the U.S. alone, according to NBC News.

President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden to Receive Vaccine Monday

On a weekly transition briefing, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden will receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday in Delaware.

The vaccinations will be done publicly.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will receive their first doses a week later.

Stimulus Talks Hit New Snag With Protections Set to Expire

Congress hit a new stumbling block in negotiating a coronavirus aid deal, the latest in a final turbulent stretch to end the year as party leaders race against a Friday midnight deadline, NBC News reports.

Congressional leaders had settled on a $900 billion framework mid-week that is expected to include a $300 federal unemployment bonus, a new round of direct payments, small business funding and money to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.

But leaders had hit a new roadblock as Democrats on Friday accused Republicans, led by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., of seeking to hamstring the incoming Biden administration by cutting off Federal Reserve emergency lending facilities created by the CARES Act to protect the fragile economy.

Fauci Says Moderna’s Vaccine May Prevent Asymptomatic Infection, Anticipates Jabs ‘Early Next Week’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, says data from Moderna’s vaccine trial suggests it not only prevents symptomatic disease, but may also prevent asymptomatic infection.

“If you also even prevent a person from actually getting infected, that would mean you are prevented from passing the infection on to someone else, and that kind of interferes with the chain of transmission,” Fauci explained to NBC’s Savannah Gutherie on the TODAY show.

Fauci predicted that injections of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to be approved for emergency use by the FDA on Friday, will begin “very soon — literally within a few days.”

The second coronavirus vaccine can’t come soon enough, as the country reported a single-day record of 243,645 cases on Thursday, according to an NBC News tally. There also were 3,288 deaths, just five shy of Wednesday’s single-day record of 3,293 deaths.

Fauci reiterated his earlier prediction that vaccines could be widely available to the public by spring 2021, describing the possible date range as between February and April. 

Pence, Wife Karen, Publicly Receive COVID-19 Vaccine to Boost Public Confidence

Vice President Mike Pence received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on live television Friday morning as part of a federal effort to build public confidence in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

“I didn’t feel a thing,” Pence said after getting his shot.

Second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams were also vaccinated in an office suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building from three medical technicians from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

President Donald Trump’s administration helped deliver vaccinations against the coronavirus earlier than even some in his administration thought possible, launching Operation Warp Speed — the government campaign to help swiftly develop and distribute vaccines — this spring with great fanfare in the White House Rose Garden.

“While we cut red tape, we cut no corners,” Pence said, adding that “the American people can be confident: we have one and perhaps within hours two safe vaccines,” a reference to expected FDA approval of Moderna’s vaccine.

The White House has not said when or whether Trump will be vaccinated. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to be vaccinated as soon as next week and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both said Thursday that they will get vaccinated in the next few days.

Biden Adviser Cedric Richmond Tests Positive for Coronavirus

One of President-elect Joe Biden’s closest advisers tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, according to his transition team.

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is set to resign from Congress to join the incoming Biden administration as a senior adviser, tested positive two days after traveling to Atlanta to attend a campaign rally that Biden headlined for Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, Biden transition spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

Bedingfield said Richmond was not in close contact with Biden, Ossoff or Warnock, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She added that Biden underwent COVID-19 testing on Thursday, and the virus was not detected.

Richmond, 47, first began experiencing symptoms on Wednesday, the transition said.

US Tops Record Daily Cases With 240K Reported Thursday

The United States reported 243,645 cases on Thursday, setting a record for the second day in a row, according to an NBC News tally.

Thursday also saw 3,288 deaths recorded, five shy of Wednesday’s record count.

California: More Than 1,000 Virus Deaths in Last 5 Days

Health officials in California announced a one-day record Thursday of 379 deaths and a two-day total of nearly 106,000 newly confirmed cases.

The nation’s most populous state has recorded more than 1,000 deaths in the last five days. Its overall case total now tops 1.7 million, a figure nearly equal to Spain’s and only surpassed by eight countries. The state’s overall death toll has reached 21,860.

Many of California’s hospitals are running out of capacity to treat the severest cases, and the situation is complicating care for non-COVID-19 patients.

Wife of HHS Secretary Azar Tests Positive

The wife of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has tested positive for the coronavirus illness, COVID-19, he said in an email to colleagues.

Azar said he and his family learned Thursday that his wife, Jennifer, had tested positive and that she is isolating with mild symptoms and doing well. Azar said he and their children have tested negative.

Azar said in the email that his wife began isolating at home “from the moment of her first symptoms,” even after an instant test came back negative. A PCR test, which takes longer but is considered more accurate, then came back positive.

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