A policymaker who helped to bring the nation Obamacare has been announced as a leader of the COVID-19 effort under presumptive President-elect Joe Biden.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an architect of the Affordable Care Act and a former special adviser for health policy in the Barack Obama White House, was named to Biden’s Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, according to Fox News.
While Biden has the edge in the election, President Donald Trump has challenged the results in a post-election battle that as of Monday showed no signs of abating. The Democrat was declared the election’s winner Saturday by several media organizations and is now moving to begin his transition.
Emanuel had been among those calling for Biden’s election.
The best way to stop Trump’s do-nothing #COVID19 plan is to vote! A Biden Administration would take critical steps to fight pandemic, including clear messaging and a comprehensive, coordinated federal effort that builds trust.
— Zeke Emanuel (@ZekeEmanuel) November 2, 2020
The COVID-19 board will be chaired by David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner; Dr. Vivek Murthy, an Obama-era surgeon general; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management at Yale University.
Beth Cameron, another former Obama official, and Rebecca Katz, who was on Biden’s campaign advisory committee for the disease, were named advisers to the COVID-19 transition group.
Other members include Dr. Luciana Borio, who served in several senior leadership positions at the FDA; Rick Bright, who served as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and was deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Atul Gawande; Dr. Celine Gounder; Dr. Julie Morita; Michael Osterholm, who served as a science envoy for health security on behalf of the State Department and as a state epidemiologist for Minnesota; Loyce Pace, who served in leadership positions at LIVESTRONG Foundation and the American Cancer Society; Dr. Robert Rodriguez; and Dr. Eric Goosby.
Bright criticized the Trump administration’s coronavirus response in May, Fox News noted.
“Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history,” he said then.
In a statement on the transition website, Biden said, “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”
“It’ll be closer to November, closer toward the end” of 2021, he said, adding that the opening would be keyed to the speed at which Americans are vaccinated.
“But it’ll probably be enough to begin opening colleges and universities [and] schools, again depending on how we distribute this thing and how effective we can be on that,” Emanuel said.
He said this winter could be difficult.
“The biggest concern is we’re moving indoors,” Emanuel said. “There are four things that increase transmission: indoors, crowds, long periods of time, and then coughing, sneezing, singing [and] yelling. And we’re going to move indoors, and many of the places we’re going in — houses, etc. — don’t have great air handling systems. If you put a group of people indoors, one of whom is infected, it’s predictable what’s going to happen.”
He said a vaccine “can’t be a quick fix, because we can’t make enough of it fast enough and distribute it and administer it fast enough. The idea that we’ll have a vaccine at the end of December, and presto, change-o, everything changes. … Now, it will lead to changes, but that’s going to take months, actually.”
Biden’s transition website offers key parts of his COVID-19 plan.
The former vice president pledges to “[i]mplement mask mandates nationwide by working with governors and mayors and by asking the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis.”
The plan calls for “[e]very American to wear a mask when they are around people outside their household; [e]very Governor to make that mandatory in their state” and “[l]ocal authorities to also make it mandatory to buttress their state orders.”
Biden’s plan also would set up a “COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force, as proposed by Vice President-elect Harris, to provide recommendations and oversight on disparities in the public health and economic response. At the end of this health crisis, it will transition to a permanent Infectious Disease Racial Disparities Task Force.”
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