Biden Selects His Health Team
Here’s who will be steering the U.S. through the Covid-19 pandemic come January
President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team announced their key health appointments on Monday, including the new heads of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health and Human Services.
The appointment of Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, as the new director of the CDC is, in my opinion, a close one to watch. The CDC is usually front and center during pandemics, helping to coordinate the response and communicate recommendations to the American public. The agency has been sidelined during the pandemic so far and its recommendations have been slow and politicized. Here’s a compelling interview Walensky gave in October when asked how she would rebuild trust in the agency:
And here’s the rundown of all the names and bios from the Biden transition team press release:
This diverse and experienced slate of nominations and appointments includes some of the nation’s most accomplished problem-solving leaders in crisis management and public health:
Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California and a long-time champion of expanding access to health care, is nominated to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. A former member of Congress who helped drive passage of the Affordable Care Act, Becerra led the defense of the law in the Supreme Court last month. If confirmed, Becerra will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, a distinguished physician, research scientist, and former Vice Admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, is nominated to serve as Surgeon General of the United States. He was previously confirmed by the Senate to serve in the same capacity, holding the post as ‘America’s Doctor’ between 2014 and 2017. A trusted national voice on health issues and a long-time advisor to President-elect Biden, he currently serves as co-chair of the President-elect’s COVID-19 transition Advisory Board.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a leading expert on virus testing, prevention, and treatment, is nominated to serve as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response in Massachusetts, serving as Chief of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, one of the country’s foremost experts on health care disparities, will serve as the COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair. An Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management at the Yale School of Medicine, she is the founding director of Yale’s Equity Research and Innovation Center and co-chair of the President-elect’s COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board. Dr. Nunez-Smith will advise the President-elect on a whole-of-government effort to reduce COVID-19 disparities in response, care, and treatment, including racial and ethnic disparities.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s preeminent expert on infectious diseases and an adviser to six U.S. presidents, will serve as Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to the President and continue in his role as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Among the most trusted figures in the country throughout the pandemic and for decades prior, Dr. Fauci will remain an essential voice both in informing the public about health risks and safety measures and in helping the scientific community, the Biden-Harris administration, and local officials overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeff Zients, an accomplished public servant widely known for his extraordinary track record successfully managing large and complex initiatives, will serve as Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President. Zients previously earned broad acclaim for his leadership of the 2013 HealthCare.gov tech surge and his oversight of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ fuel-efficiency program. Zients will advise the president-elect on the implementation of the federal government’s COVID response, including managing safe and equitable vaccine distribution, the pandemic supply chain, and coordination across federal agencies and state and local governments.
Natalie Quillian will serve as Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response. Quillian, a national security expert and former White House and Pentagon senior advisor, played an instrumental role in coordinating the Obama-Biden administration’s interagency response to the opioid epidemic.