Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.
There’s still no deal on a long-term government funding or COVID-19 relief package, hours ahead of a government shutdown. A two-day extension might tide things over.
Vice President Pence received the COVID-19 vaccine, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as coronavirus talks drag into weekend | Federal Reserve fight imperils relief talks Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as coronavirus talks drag into weekend Overnight Health Care: CVS, Walgreens to begin nursing home vaccinations | Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera | 8.2M people sign up for ObamaCare MORE plans to get one in the “coming days.” No word yet on President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump signs bill to keep government open amid relief talks US to close two Russia consulates ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ trends on social media following new Space Force name MORE. Meanwhile, the first nursing home residents were vaccinated Friday.
Let’s start with nursing homes:
CVS, Walgreens to begin nursing home vaccinations
CVS and Walgreens will begin COVID-19 vaccinations of residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities Friday, hoping to stem the deaths and illnesses that disproportionately impacted some of the nation’s most vulnerable since the pandemic began.
As part of a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two organizations will begin their effort to vaccinate millions of residents at thousands of facilities across the U.S.
“Walgreens is very proud to be a part of this historic milestone to begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable populations,” Walgreens President John Standley said in a statement.
“With more than a decade of experience administering various vaccines, we have the deep expertise to support this unprecedented effort to allow our nation to emerge from this pandemic.”
There is no federal requirement that staff or residents be vaccinated against COVID-19 but experts are hoping it is widely accepted.
Why it matter: More than 100,000 residents and staff of long-term care facilities have died of COVID-19. Congregate settings like nursing homes have proved to be the most dangerous areas for COVID-19 transmission, and the elderly are most likely to face severe complications, including death, if they get the disease.
Read more here.
Big day for public vaccinations: Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera
Vice President Pence on Friday received the coronavirus vaccine on live television, making him the first White House official to do so.
Pence, the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, received the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech a week after it was approved in a major milestone in the battle against the coronavirus. He did so publicly, at an event in the White House Friday morning, in order to help build public confidence in the vaccine and assure Americans of its safety and efficacy.
“We gather here today at the end of a historic week to affirm to the American people that hope is on the way,” Pence said in remarks after receiving the vaccine, assuring the public that while the officials “cut red tape” to quickly produce the vaccine, they “cut no corners.”
Split screen: Shortly after Pence spoke, Trump retweeted a conservative commentator questioning the efficacy of masks and business closures to fight the virus.
It is unclear when and how Trump will receive the vaccine, though he has indicated he plans to receive it.
Other big vaccinations today: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: CVS, Walgreens to begin nursing home vaccinations | Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera | 8.2M people sign up for ObamaCare McCarthy, Pelosi receive FBI briefing on Swalwell Trump stays off-camera as vaccine is distributed MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both got the vaccine and posted photos on Twitter.
Read more here.
House passes two-day CR
The House on Friday passed a two-day, stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown and provide negotiators additional time to iron out details on a larger funding and COVID-19 relief package.
Both parties are still feverishly negotiating a long-stalled coronavirus relief package, but acknowledged that they needed more time to iron out remaining sticking points.
The House passed the continuing resolution (CR) by a vote of 320-60. House Democrats unveiled the measure to keep the government open through Sunday less than eight hours before current funding expires at midnight.
Senate GOP leaders are hoping to similarly move the CR through the upper chamber before the midnight deadline.
But at least one senator, Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump signs bill to keep government open amid relief talks On The Money: Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as coronavirus talks drag into weekend | Federal Reserve fight imperils relief talks Overnight Health Care: CVS, Walgreens to begin nursing home vaccinations | Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera | 8.2M people sign up for ObamaCare MORE (R-Mo.), threatened earlier in the day to block passage of the bill unless congressional leaders provided a detailed update on the coronavirus relief negotiations. He later backed down and said that he would allow the stopgap bill to pass.
Read more here.
Some ObamaCare news…8.2M people sign up for the health law, holding roughly steady
The Trump administration announced Friday that 8.2 million people signed up for ObamaCare plans for next year on the federally-run marketplace, holding roughly steady from last year’s total.
The total is close to last year’s 8.3 million, the administration said, despite the fact that New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s signups are now no longer included in the total because they have switched to running their own state-based marketplaces.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said that when those two states are excluded, signups increased over last year — a sign of the health law’s continuing resilience in the face of attacks and efforts at repeal.
Takeaway: “Enrollment held roughy steady this year,” Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, wrote in an email. “That’s good news when you consider the Trump administration has slashed outreach and did very little to promote the [Affordable Care Act]. It’s bad news in the middle of a pandemic with heightened health risks and an economic crisis when millions have lost their jobs.”
Read more here.
Alaska health care worker released from hospital after vaccine allergic reaction
An Alaska health care worker was released from the hospital on Thursday after experiencing a rare but serious allergic reaction to Pfizer and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
The worker was released from Bartlett Regional Hospital after staying two nights, the news outlet reports.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the worker experienced flushing and shortness of breath, which subsided after being treated with epinephrine.
Alaska’s chief medical officer Anne Zink told the news outlet that multiple entities — including the state, hospital and Food and Drug Administration — are looking into both incidents to see if the incidents were reactions to the vaccine itself or if it was a problem with the shipment.
Read more here.
What we’re reading:
Only seven of Stanford’s first 5,000 vaccines were designated for medical residents (ProPublica)
She was flown hundreds of miles to the nearest hospital that could handle her COVID case. She’s not alone. (BuzzFeed News)
Wealthy patients scramble for COVID-19 vaccine (Los Angeles Times)
State by state:
Arizona has 7 percent of hospital beds available (AZCentral.com)
Wisconsin governor asks federal government for more COVID vaccine (WSAW)