President-elect Joe Biden will announce a coronavirus task force just days after he was declared the winner of the general election as he prepares to take over the White House in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 237,000 Americans.
Biden said during his election victory speech in Delaware on Saturday night that “the fight to control the virus” would be an important part of his presidency, while hoping to “bring some comfort and solace to Americans who have lost a loved one” as a result of COVID-19.
“On Monday I will appoint a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors to prepare the plan presented by Biden-Harris and translate it into an action plan that will begin on January 20, 2021,” Biden said.
“This plan will build on the foundations of rock science. It will be built on compassion, empathy and concern. I will spare no effort, none, and I will make no commitment to reverse this pandemic.
The immediacy of Biden’s announcement makes it clear that he intends to make the fight against COVID-19 one of his promises, after frequently denouncing Trump for his failures to deal with the pandemic, including his refusal to wear a mask and his refusal to play down the deadly threat.
While Biden did not go into details, Axios initially reported that the 12-member task force would be led by three co-chairs: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith of Yale University.
The names of the co-chairs were later confirmed by other news agencies, and the additional members are to be announced on Monday.
The co-chairs have been longtime advisors to Biden and only last month attended a COVID-19 briefing with the President-Elect.
According to the New York Times, Murthy, who is originally from Karnataka and was born in the United Kingdom, will be the face of the government’s fight against the pandemic and other public health issues.
Murthy has been known to Biden for years, having been appointed Surgeon General by then President Barack Obama in 2014, while Biden was appointed by the Vice President.
At 37, he was the youngest person who was said to hold this office. He was later asked by the Trump administration to resign from his office.
Murthy and Kessler both informed Biden about the coronavirus for months.
The Times previously quoted Kessler as saying, “Murthy and I would inform Biden about the pandemic every day or four times a week.
The last co-chair of the Task Force is Dr. Nunez-Smith, who appeared with Murthy and Kessler on October 28th at one of Biden’s coronavirus briefings at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware.
Nunez-Smith is Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health and Management and Founding Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center,
According to her Yale profile, Nunez-Smith focuses her research on promoting health and health equity for “structurally marginalized populations.
Nunez-Smith is originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands and attended Jefferson Medical College, where she was accepted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.
She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology and psychology from Swarthmore College.