US coronavirus cases rise to 238; first vaccine trials seek volunteers

As of 10:30 a.m., March 6, COVID-19 has sickened 100,674 people worldwide, with 3,411 related deaths reported. In total, 55,753 people have recovered from the illness.

1. Kaiser Permanente is recruiting volunteers for the first COVID-19 vaccine trials, according to KOMO News. Seattle-based Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute is seeking out 45 healthy people, ages 18 to 55, to study the safety of a vaccine similar to mRNA vaccines developed for the Zika virus. Participants who complete the full 14-month study will receive $1,100.

"[The trial] does not include any form of the live virus, and the trial will not expose participants to the virus," Rebecca Hughes, a senior media consultant at Kaiser Permanente, told KOMO News.

2. The Trump administration has possibly sidelined HHS Secretary Alex Azar in the outbreak response, Politico reports. Mr. Azar did not attend a COVID-19 task force news briefing March 4, though he was at a Capitol Hill briefing March 5, during which lawmakers questioned his department's preparation for the outbreak.

Vice President Mike Pence, who oversees the task force, asked Mr. Azar not to attend the March 4 news conference, two individuals close to the matter told Politico. However, both Mr. Pence's office and Mr. Azar's allies said the health secretary's absence is due to other commitments and his role hasn't been minimized. Two officials said other leaders have been elevated in the response as part of a push by Mr. Pence's office to ensure that women and people of color are represented.

3. The U.S. has reported 14 related deaths and 238 cases. Thirteen of the deaths occurred in Washington and one was a California resident. Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have reported their first known cases in the past 24 hours. The following states have known active cases: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington. 

4. President Donald Trump approved an $8.3 billion budget March 6 to combat the outbreak, NPR reports. The package passed through the House March 4 and the Senate March 5.  

5. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society canceled its 2020 global health conference March 5, citing concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19. 


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