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Hundreds of Biden staffers receive COVID vaccine

A week into the job, President Biden's White House medical team has administered the coronavirus vaccine to several hundred staffers — and aims to vaccinate all in-person staff over the next few weeks, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The new administration is ramping up steps to protect President Biden — but also to protect all staff working inside the complex. The administration is also requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times.


Details: Emails to White House staffers began going out earlier this month with the subject line, "Invitation to receive COVID-19 Vaccination."

  • The emails reflect recent guidance to staff around the new administration's tight COVID-19 protocols.

What they're saying: "As we announced last month, approximately three dozen incoming members of the senior staff, national security team and incoming cabinet nominees received their first dose in early January," White House spokesperson Kevin Munoz told Axios.

  • "The White House medical team has vaccinated several hundred additional staffers from the Executive Office of the President who are working on site every day ... to ensure a COVID-safe working environment around the president and key leaders who have national security and continuity of government responsibilities."

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

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Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring Houston COVID-19 vaccination site

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

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Podcast: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky on the future of travel and his company

Airbnb seems to be on the precipice of a business boom, as travel is expected to surge once herd immunity is achieved.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with CEO Brian Chesky about the company's first earnings report since going public, plus what's next for Airbnb, travel and hospitality.

Biden after U.S. airstrike: Iran "can't act with impunity. Be careful"

President Biden said Friday that Thursday night's airstrike against facilities tied to an Iranian-backed militia group in Syria was meant to warn Iran that it "can't act with impunity."

Driving the news: The Pentagon said the airstrike, which was authorized by Biden, was carried out "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq" and was intended to "de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq."

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Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggiwas short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

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FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID vaccine for emergency use

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

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Law enforcement groups back Biden pick for associate attorney general

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.

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