Final-stage testing began Monday (July 27th) of an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health, with the first of what will be some 30,000 U.S. volunteers injected at different sites across the country with either the vaccine or a placebo. They will be tracked as they go about their daily lives to see which group has more coronavirus infections. We won't have results for months, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIH's infectious-disease head, saying it would likely be November or December. Meanwhile, Pfizer announced it's going to start testing its own experimental vaccine and is also looking to recruit 30,000 volunteers, and China and Britain's Oxford University began smaller final-stage tests on their vaccines earlier this month.
Meanwhile, after coronavirus cases have been increasing in the U.S. for weeks, the rate of growth in average daily new cases fell across the country Sunday for the first time since June 12th. In Arizona, Florida and Texas, which have been among the biggest recent hot spots, there seems to be a slowing down of new cases as more people social distance and wear masks, and some reopening plans have been stopped. Arizona is also starting to see a slowing down in hospitalizations, but while Florida and Texas are seeing new cases slow, their hospitalizations and deaths are continuing to rise.
There have been more than 148,000 deaths in the U.S. as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University's count, and more than 4,290,000 confirmed cases.
Republicans Introduce $1 Trillion Aid Package:Senate Republicans introduced a new $1 trillion coronavirus aid package yesterday, which includes another round of $1,200 stimulus payments to Americans, another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans to help keep small businesses open and paying their workers, and a reduction in the extra federal unemployment benefit of $600 weekly to $200. It also includes funds for virus testing and to help schools reopen in the fall, as well as liability protection from coronavirus lawsuits for businesses and schools. Now the Republicans have to negotiate final legislation with House Democrats, who passed their own $3 trillion relief package two months ago that hasn't been taken up by the Senate. Among their differences, Democrats object to cutting the $600 weekly extra unemployment benefit, and want the package to include funds for states and cities that have been left in big financial holes because of the coronavirus, which isn't in the Republicans' bill.
National Security Adviser O'Brien Positive for Coronavirus:National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien has tested positive for the coronavirus, the highest-ranking U.S. official so far. The White House said yesterday that he has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from what it said was a "secure location off site." The White House also said, "There is no risk of exposure to the President or the Vice President."