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Key Trump Adviser Tests Positive for COVID, Huge US Vaccine Test Enters Final Phase

Moderna COVID vaccine
In this March 16, 2020 photo, a subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for COVID-19. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

There's a new coronavirus patient in the White House: National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien has tested positive for the disease. 

A statement issued by the White House reveals O'Brien has "mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off-site. There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president. The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted."

The White House is pushing ahead with today's planned rollout of the Senate Republican's one trillion relief bill.

The Senate proposal comes as millions of Americans, now out of work will lose a $600 a week federal unemployment benefit that is expiring.

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The new GOP plan would offer 70 percent of former wages because many people were making more in unemployment benefits than they were on the job. In other words, the previous aid package made it more profitable for some people not to go back to work.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, "It just wouldn't be fair to use taxpayer dollars to pay more people to sit home than that would get working and get a job."  

The Washington debate about a new relief plan comes as the number of virus cases is rising across the country. California is now listed as the hardest-hit state while Florida follows as the number two-state.

And there has even been a rise in cases among children. In Florida, 9-year-old Kimora Lynum died from the disease. Her cousin, Dejeon Cain said, "She was resilient and strong. She could put a smile on your face just by looking at it."

Massive Vaccine Trial Enters Final Phase of Testing

Still, there's some positive news in the battle to end the pandemic as thousands of patients are involved in the final phase of a large scale trial of a vaccine, getting underway now.  Moderna, Inc. is working on the vaccine that could immunize people against the virus. 

According to The National Institute of Health (NIH), this final test for the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273 will evaluate the safety of the medication and determine if it can prevent symptoms of COVID-19 after patients receive two doses.  The trial also aims to identify whether the vaccine can prevent severe infection with or without disease symptoms. 

It's the world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine test, and it just got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 volunteers who are expected to participate. Volunteers will receive two injections approximately 28 days apart. Vaccine volunteer Jeffrey Balkind said, "I think it's very important that a person steps up and tries to do something good for the world at this point."

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