President-elect Joe Biden isn't wasting any time—he's already revealed his step-by-step plan for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Biden also announced his COVID task force made up of health care professionals who will help him put his plan into action.
The seven-step plan from Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, outlined on their transition website, starts with testing and tracing. They'll double the number of drive-through testing sites, invest in "next generation" testing, including home tests and instant tests, form a pandemic testing board to ramp up the production and distribution of tens of millions of tests, and establish a US Public Health Jobs Corps across the country to help protect the most at-risk populations.
Biden and Harris also pledge to "fix personal protective equipment (PPE) problems for good," direct the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to provide evidence-based guidance to schools, small businesses and families to help them navigate the pandemic, and invest $25 billion to guarantee that every American gets a free COVID-19 vaccine.
Senior Americans and other high-risk people will be prioritized, and Harris's proposed COVID-19 racial and ethnic disparities task force will be formed. This will provide recommendations and oversight on disparities in the public health and economic response to fighting the coronavirus. When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the task force will become a permanent infectious disease racial disparities task force.
The new administration will also implement 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," according to his transition website.
Throughout the pandemic, Biden has repeatedly said he would listen to scientists like Anthony Fauci, MD, the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts," Biden said in an announcement Monday morning, per CNBC. "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."
Here's the rundown on Biden's COVID-19 task force.
David Kessler, MD (co-chair)
Dr. Kessler is a pediatrician, lawyer, author, and administrator. He was commissioner of the FDA from 1990 to 1997, when he left to beame dean of the Yale School of Medicine.
Vivek Murthy, MD (co-chair)
Dr. Murthy, physician and former vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, served as surgeon general under the Obama-Biden administration.
Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that Dr. Kessler and Dr. Murthy have already been "advising [Biden] and our campaign since this virus emerged back in March."
Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD (co-chair)
The third chair of Biden's COVID-19 task force is Dr. Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of internal medicine, public health, and management with a focus on health care equity at Yale School of Medicine. She's also founding director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center, director of the Center for Research Engagement, and deputy director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation.
Atul Gawande, MD
Dr. Gawande, a professor of surgery and health policy at Harvard University, practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He's also the author of four New York Times bestselling books, including Being Mortal, and a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine.
Rick Bright, PhD
Bright was the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority from 2016 to 2020, but was dismissed from his post earlier this year after raising concerns about the Trump administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was reassigned to the NIH, but left the department in October. "He can no longer countenance working for an administration that puts politics over science to the great detriment of the American people," said Bright's attorneys, per CNN.
Luciana Borio, MD
Considered to be a leading expert on COVID-19, Dr. Borio is a Brazilian-American physician and medical/public health administrator who specializes in emerging infectious diseases and complex public health emergencies. She's also a vice president at not-for-profit venture capital firm and a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Ezekiel Emanuel, PhD
"Zeke" Emanuel is an oncologist, bioethicist, and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He is the current vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at The Wharton School.
Celine Gounder, MD
Dr. Gounder was educated at Princeton University, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and University of Washington School of Medicine. As well as being a practicing HIV/infectious diseases specialist and internist and epidemiologist (a "disease detective," according to her NYU Langone Health bio), Dr. Gounder is also a journalist and filmmaker.
Julie Morita, MD
The former health commissioner for the City of Chicago for nearly two decades, Dr. Morita is executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation's largest private philanthropy dedicated solely to improving the nation's health. She oversees all programming, policy, research, and communications activities.
Michael Osterholm, PhD
Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, has been a specialist in pandemic preparation for decades.He's the author of Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, and has become a go-to for businesses, governments, and media for advice on how to prevent or contain COVID-19 outbreaks.
Loyce Pace, MPH
Pace has served as Global Health Council's (GHC) president and executive director since December 2016 and has held top positions at LIVESTRONG Foundation and the American Cancer Society. She has also worked on the ground in more than 15 countries delivering health programs and mobilizing advocates, including stints with Physicians for Human Rights and Catholic Relief Services.
Robert Rodriguez, MD
A graduate of Harvard Medical School and a San Francisco-based emergency physician, Dr. Rodriguez has researched the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health of frontline workers. In July, he told ABC7 that the best way to help frontline providers and everybody else working in the hospital is by "taking care of yourself and being socially responsible, wearing masks."
Eric Goosby, MD
Dr. Goosby is an internationally recognized expert on infectious diseases and currently serves as the UN special envoy on tuberculosis. As Global AIDS coordinator under the Obama-Biden administration, Dr. Goosby was responsible for implementing the President's emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
According to Biden's website, regardless of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic on January 20, the day he and Harris will take office, their administration pledges to "listen to science, ensure public health decisions are informed by public health professionals, and restore trust, transparency, common purpose, and accountability to our government."
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