Coronavirus: The Hill and the Headlines, November 2020 # 15

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Your guide to the latest Hill developments, news narratives, and media headlines from Hogan Lovells Government Relations and Public Affairs practice.

In Washington:

  • President-elect Joe Biden began making announcements on who will be hiring for his key White House senior staff, members of his National security and foreign policy teams. Biden's selections include Alejandro Mayorkas, who will become the first Latino secretary of Homeland Security; Tony Blinken for Secretary of State, former Secretary of State John Kerry, who will serve as a Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; Linda Thomas Greenfield as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Biden will also be picking Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve, as his Treasury secretary.
  • On Monday, President-elect Biden's transition team pushed back on a report that he would favor a smaller coronavirus relief deal even if it meant ceding on Democratic demands. A transition spokesperson disputed the report, saying Biden “fully supports” the large deal congressional Democrats have passed and continue to push. The New York Times reported Sunday that Biden's advisers were pushing Democratic leaders to broker a quick stimulus deal with Senate Republicans amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
  • President-elect Biden plans to speak with mayors on Monday amid the continuing surge of COVID-19 cases. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are scheduled to meet virtually with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan group that includes over 1,400 leaders of cities in the U.S. whose populations exceed 30,000 people. The meeting follows another between Biden, Harris, and a bipartisan group of governors last Thursday as the Biden transition focuses on the coronavirus pandemic as it prepares to take office.
  • A majority of Americans say they want their states to stay open amid the recent surge in coronavirus cases as opposed to locking down, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they wanted their states to "try to manage while staying open." Forty-six percent said they believed their states should return to lockdown.
  • Top Democratic lawmakers from key committees called on the head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, to put public health ahead to politics and formally approve the president transition so that the Biden administration can begin preparing to take on the coronavirus the first day in office. House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) noted in a statement, that Murphy had not outlined a basis to deny that Biden won the election. "Each day lost in the transition process puts more Americans at risk of contracting or dying from the coronavirus," he said. Senate HELP Committee ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA) with Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote Murphy warning that it was “unacceptable to delay the critical work to save lives” and withhold key resources from the Biden team amid a pandemic response.

In the News:

  • British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that clinical trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine has an average efficacy of 70 percent and some trials showing 90 percent efficacy. The company developed the vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford. AstraZeneca said it would prepare the regulatory submission of the data to health authorities around the world immediately. The company says its vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerated conditions (36-46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months. Comparatively, Moderna has said its vaccine candidate remains stable at a normal refrigeration temperature for up to 30 days.
  • Los Angeles County is suspending outdoor dining for the foreseeable future as coronavirus cases surge in the region and across the country.
  • A United Nations agency reported on Monday that greenhouse gas concentrations continued to rise this year, despite expectations that coronavirus lockdowns would bring emissions down. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that “in the short-term the impact of the Covid-19 confinements cannot be distinguished from natural variability" in emissions. The WMO estimates that during the most intense period of the lockdown, global daily CO2 emissions dropped by 17 percent. But the decrease appears to have been a blip.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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