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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Manuel Medir/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence's pick for his national security advisor, Jon Lerner, has decided against joining Pence's team. Lerner's decision comes after Axios reported earlier tonight that President Trump had attempted to block Lerner's appointment over his anti-Trump work for the Club for Growth during the 2016 campaign.

The reasoning: According to a source familiar with the deliberations, Lerner, who currently serves as UN Secretary Nikki Haley's deputy, sought to avoid drama: "Jon does not want to be a distraction. He’s done incredible work with Nikki Haley and it’s important to our country that this work continues."

More from the source about the decision:

  • “Jon has been and will remain a trusted advisor to our team but will not formally join the VP as his NSA."
  • "The Vice President’s team has always conducted business without drama and agreed with Jon that we can continue to look upon Jon for advice without causing any distractions."
  • "This is the smartest and best path forward without inviting any unnecessary distraction."

The official word, from Pence's press secretary Alyssa Farah: “Tonight Jon informed the Vice President that he was withdrawing from coming on board as national security advisor. Vice President Pence holds Jon Lerner in the highest regard and expressed his deep gratitude for Jon’s willingness to consider joining our team.”

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote 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.

8 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

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."

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.