Newly confirmed surgeon general to focus on COVID, opioids
Surgeon General speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. The Senate has confirmed Murthy as surgeon generral on March 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed a soft-spoken physician as President Joe Biden's surgeon general Tuesday. He told senators during his confirmation hearing that he wants to help individuals and families protect themselves by conveying “clear, science-based guidance” to the general public. Murthy has drawn opposition from gun rights advocates because of his longstanding assessment that mass shootings amount to a public health problem.
Asian Americans seek greater political power after shootings
It's also spurring her and other Asian Americans to push for greater political influence in Washington and other power centers. President Joe Biden and his aides have been repeatedly pressed to include Asian Americans in his Cabinet. Ad“I think symbolism and representation matters, but only up to a point,” said Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “Those things all contribute to lower rates of political participation among Asian Americans, but people — mistakenly, I think — assume that Asian Americans are somehow less interested in U.S. civic life.”AdThat's evolving. “Asian Americans didn't necessarily grow up with that vocabulary of advocacy and how to fight for ourselves," Meng said.
Biden Cabinet near complete but hundreds of jobs still open
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s Cabinet is nearly complete with the confirmation of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. A panel will also vote on advancing the nomination of Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be deputy secretary of transportation. And even as the Biden administration moves through picking nominees, there's no guarantee they'll all receive a smooth confirmation. And some of the deputies have become political footballs for Republicans looking to score concessions from the Biden administration. Cruz continues to hold up Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, until sanctions are imposed.
Biden Cabinet near complete but hundreds of jobs still open
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s Cabinet is nearly complete with the confirmation of Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Monday. A panel will also vote on advancing the nomination of Polly Ellen Trottenberg to be deputy secretary of Transportation. And even as the Biden administration moves through picking nominees, there's no guarantee they'll all receive a smooth confirmation. And some of the deputies have become political footballs for Republicans looking to score concessions from the Biden administration. Cruz continues to hold up Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, until sanctions are imposed.
Former Michigan Gov. Granholm confirmed as energy secretary
Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hearing to examine her nomination to be Secretary of Energy, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance.
Centrist Democrats flex muscles, create headaches for Biden
He can send the White House into a tailspin with a single five-minute interview or three-sentence statement. With a 50-50 split in the Senate leaving little room for error on tough votes, other moderate Democrats like Sens. He received a call from the White House shortly after his complaint to try to smooth things over. AdThe White House shares those political concerns. Their significance to the final vote on the COVID-19 bill means some moderates are already getting extra attention from the White House.
Biden picks 1st transgender person for Senate-confirmed post
(Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News via AP)WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, Levine was appointed to her current post by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in 2017, making her one of the few transgender people serving in elected or appointed positions nationwide. A transition spokesperson also said Tuesday that Dawn O’Connell will serve as senior counselor for coronavirus response to the health and human services secretary. ___This story has been corrected to show there will be 100 million, not 100, shots.
EXPLAINER: Are new coronavirus strains cause for concern?
Reports from Britain and South Africa of new coronavirus strains that seem to spread more easily are causing alarm, but virus experts say it’s unclear if that’s the case or whether they pose any concern for vaccines or cause more severe disease. New variants, or strains, of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been seen almost since it was first detected in China nearly a year ago. Several European Union countries and Canada were banning or limiting some flights from the U.K. to try to limit any spread. The one in the U.K. has the two changes and more, including eight to the spike protein, Gupta said. But vaccines may need fine-tuned over time as changes accumulate, and changes should be more closely monitored, he wrote.
Panel: People over 75, essential workers next for vaccines
Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are moved to the loading dock for shipping at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. The essential workers include firefighters and police; teachers and school staff; those working in food, agricultural and manufacturing sectors; corrections workers; U.S. At least a dozen states reported they would receive a smaller second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine than they had been told previously. “And unless it’s perfectly right, we will not release vaccine doses for usage,” he said. “That is something that I have been assured of.”Both the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech shot require two doses several weeks apart.
The Latest: Tenn. governor enacts new virus restrictions
All Australian states have imposed restrictions on travelers from Sydney and parts of New South Wales because the coronavirus risk. The state on Sunday reported 1,536 new COVID-19 cases and 46 more deaths. ___TOPEKA, Kan. — A FedEx executive says a higher-than-normal volume of Christmas-season package deliveries won’t interfere with the company’s effort to ship coronavirus vaccine doses. The first wave of coronavirus infections in New York “came from Europe and we did nothing,” the Democratic governor said. ___WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s surgeon general is defending Trump’s not getting a coronavirus vaccine, saying there are medical reasons for it.
Biden’s health team offers glimpse of his COVID-19 strategy
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden’s choices for his health care team point to a stronger federal role in the nation’s COVID-19 strategy, restoration of a guiding stress on science and an emphasis on equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments. “We are still going to have a federal, state and local partnership,” commented Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the nonprofit American Public Health Association. “These are not turf-conscious people,” said Drew Altman, CEO of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, a clearinghouse for health care information and analysis. A Secretary Becerra “can't get up every morning and think only COVID,” she said. That challenge faces widespread skepticism among minorities that the health care system has their best interests in mind.
Biden's health team offers glimpse of his COVID-19 strategy
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden's choices for his health care team point to a stronger federal role in the nation’s COVID-19 strategy, restoration of a guiding stress on science and an emphasis on equitable distribution of vaccines and treatments. “We are still going to have a federal, state and local partnership,” commented Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the nonprofit American Public Health Association. “These are not turf-conscious people,” said Drew Altman, CEO of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, a clearinghouse for health care information and analysis. A Secretary Becerra “can't get up every morning and think only COVID,” she said. That challenge faces widespread skepticism among minorities that the health care system has their best interests in mind.
The Latest: Trump questions Pa. speaker on electoral votes
WASHINGTON – The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):9:15 p.m.President Donald Trump is continuing his futile appeal to battleground state lawmakers to subvert the votes of their constituents. A person briefed on the matter said Trump pressed for the state’s legislature to replace the electors for President-elect Joe Biden with those loyal to Trump. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., said Monday the group was specifically asking Biden’s team to elevate the nomination of Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General to a Cabinet-level position. He also tapped former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to serve in that post again. __9 a.m.President-elect Joe Biden is naming some of his most prominent allies to be the co-chairs for his upcoming inauguration.
Biden picks Xavier Becerra to lead HHS, coronavirus response
Separately, Biden picked a Harvard infectious disease expert, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden also announced other top members of his health care team, though some posts remain unfilled. But overseeing the coronavirus response will be the most complicated task he has ever contemplated. The core components of HHS are the boots on the ground of the government’s coronavirus response. Early in California’s coronavirus response, Becerra defended broad shutdowns Gov.
Next for Biden: Getting the right health team as virus rages
WASHINGTON – Up soon for President-elect Joe Biden: naming his top health care officials as the coronavirus pandemic rages. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus made a fresh push during a virtual conference call Thursday for Biden to nominate Lujan Grisham as HHS secretary. Biden is expected to announce his choice for HHS secretary next week. In the running for a top health job is former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, co-chair of Biden's coronavirus task force. Alongside his health secretary, Biden is expected to name a top-level White House adviser to coordinate the government’s extensive coronavirus response.
AP Interview: Biden adviser says race central to virus fight
Addressing racial disparities in the U.S. coronavirus crisis cannot be an afterthought, a top adviser to President-elect Joe Biden on the COVID-19 pandemic response said Tuesday. “We cannot get this pandemic under control if we do not address head-on the issues of inequity in our country," she said. The virus in the U.S. has killed more than 268,000 and caused more than 13.5 million confirmed infections. Gathering that information became easier last week when the federal government recognized Biden as the winner of the Nov. 3 election, she said. ___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.
Biden faces tough choice of whether to back virus lockdowns
WASHINGTON – Joe Biden faces a decision unlike any other incoming president: whether to back a short-term national lockdown to finally arrest a raging pandemic. But the debate has been livelier among members of the coronavirus advisory board Biden announced this week. One member, Dr. Michael Osterholm, suggested a four- to six-week lockdown with financial aid for Americans whose livelihoods would be affected. That's a sign of the tough dynamic Biden will face when he is inaugurated in January. But Biden himself fueled some of the confusion about his stance on lockdowns during the campaign.
Biden has room on health care, though limited by Congress
And just like the Trump administration, Biden is expected to aggressively wield the rule-making powers of the executive branch to address health insurance coverage and prescription drug costs. With COVID-19 surging across the country, Biden's top health care priority is whipping the federal government’s response into shape. “We’re going to work quickly with the Congress to dramatically ramp up health care protections, get Americans universal coverage, lower health care costs, as soon as humanly possible,” the president-elect said earlier this week. A factor that may work in Biden's favor is that many Republicans want to change the subject on health care. Coronavirus relief legislation could provide an early vehicle for some broader health care changes.
Biden vows to ‘get right to work’ despite Trump resistance
President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden, attend a service at the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial at Penn's Landing on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Philadelphia. Biden continues to shrug off Trump's refusal to accept the election outcome, even as officials in both parties warn that the Republican president’s actions could be dangerous. The Republican president's allies on Capitol Hill, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have encouraged the president's accusations. With Biden leading Trump by wide margins in key battleground states, none of those issues would have any impact on the outcome of the election. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, among six world leaders overall, congratulated Biden on his election.
GOP lets Trump fight election for weeks despite Biden's win
The delay has the potential to upend civic norms, impede Biden’s transition to the White House and sow doubt in the nation’s civic and election systems. Trump would need to produce ample evidence of impropriety to undo Biden’s lead, which appears unlikely. During a closed-door lunch, Vice President Mike Pence told Senate Republicans about the legal strategy. Trump and his GOP allies haven’t offered evidence of election fraud, and their legal challenges have largely been rejected by the courts. McConnell noted the potential turmoil during the transition in praising ousted Defense Secretary Mark Esper, whom Trump fired on Monday.
The Latest: International observers see no fraud in US vote
President-elect Joe Biden listens during a meeting with his COVID-19 advisory council, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)WASHINGTON – The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):9 p.m.International observers from the Organization of American States say they saw no instances of fraud or voting irregularities in the U.S. presidential election. Some Republicans are renewing their attacks on President-elect Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump in Georgia, with Sens. Political appointees who are looking for job opportunities after President Donald Trump’s election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden should think twice. Carson is the first member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet known to have tested positive.
Biden eyes Washington veterans for key administration posts
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a longtime Biden ally and friend, is seen as a potential choice for secretary of state. Rep. Karen Bass of California, whom Biden considered for vice president, is seen as a potential housing and urban development secretary. Biden is expected to move quickly to name a chief of staff, but other top Cabinet positions will likely take longer. The names under consideration represent Biden's effort to move Washington past the tumult of President Donald Trump's administration and fill out his government with more seasoned professionals. The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as president-elect, beginning the transition process.
President-elect Joe Biden makes remarks on his COVID-19 taskforce
“We are still facing a dark winter.”He called on Americans to separate politics from the virus and embrace mask-wearing. “Please, I implore you, wear a mask.”Over the past two weeks, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen nearly 65%. Pfizer said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine may be a remarkable 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results. A top Trump administration health official delivered much the same message as Biden, although the timing was coincidental and the occasion apolitical. The advisory board that Biden announced on Monday includes doctors and scientists who have served in previous administrations, many of them experts in public health, vaccines and infectious disease.
The Latest: Former WH officials urge cooperative transition
The White House in Washington, is seen early Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, the morning after incumbent President Donald Trump was defeated by his Democratic challenger, President-elect Joe Biden. That’s a necessary move to free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin putting in place the transition process at agencies. Saying the field was full of good candidates, Clyburn said he “came to the conclusion that Joe Biden was our best bet.”___9 a.m.President-elect Joe Biden will launch an “agency review teams” this coming week. Biden’s campaign launched a transition team in May, and they’ve been working alongside designated staffers in President Donald Trump’s administration on transition planning for months. Biden’s transition team has also come out with a transition-focused website — BuildBackBetter.com — and is launching transition-focused social media accounts under the username “Transition46.”
Biden seeks to move quickly and build out his administration
– President-elect Joe Biden signaled on Sunday he plans to move quickly to build out his government, focusing first on the raging pandemic that will likely dominate the early days of his administration. White House officials would not comment on whether they would cooperate with Biden's team on the review. A bipartisan group of administration officials from the Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton administrations on Sunday called on the Trump administration to move forward “to immediately begin the post-election transition process." Biden aides said the president-elect and transition team had been in touch with Republican lawmakers. Biden senior adviser Ted Kaufman said the transition team will focus on the "nuts and bolts” of building the new administration in coming days.
Biden faces challenges in quickly combating the pandemic
– If Joe Biden wins next week's election, he says he'll immediately call Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert. The early days of a Biden administration would be consumed by a pandemic response. “I’m here to tell you we can and will get control of this virus,” Biden said Tuesday during a campaign stop in Georgia. Some Republican governors, including in states like North Dakota where virus cases are on the rise, refuse to implement mask requirements. At the start of the pandemic, Biden and other Democrats criticized Trump for not more quickly moving to use the Defense Production Act to step up national production of ventilators and other medical and protective equipment.
The Latest: Health experts brief Biden on slowing virus
WASHINGTON – The Latest on the 2020 presidential election (all times local):12:40 p.m.Joe Biden is receiving a virtual briefing from a former U.S. surgeon general and a collection of health experts on how best to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Biden’s campaign created a virtual studio that connected the former vice president via video with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and six other experts at a theater in downtown Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday. Biden will give a speech on the topic later in the day. He suggested doing so could save thousands of lives and ultimately be more effective between now and early next year as vaccines are being developed. Others on the briefing endorsed a national requirement to wear masks, given the country’s “porous borders” and rules that vary from state to state.
As business trickles back, hotels compete on cleanliness
Marriott, Hilton and other big hotel companies are used to competing on price or perks. But leisure travel is starting to pick up, and hotels see cleaning standards as a way to soothe jittery guests and possibly win back business from rivals like home-sharing companies like Airbnb. He notes that Accor Hotels, a French company, has developed accreditation standards that its hotels must meet in order to reopen. He stayed at Marriott hotels in Iowa and Ohio along the way. That will be a challenge for Airbnb, he said, which has developed its own cleaning standards but may have more trouble ensuring that hosts comply.