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Politics Biden taps Murthy as nation’s top doctor, offers Fauci key role as covid team takes shape

03:10  04 december  2020
03:10  04 december  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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President-elect Joe Biden has tapped two close allies to oversee his administration’ s response to the Marcella Nunez-Smith, a co -chair of Biden ’ s Covid -19 advisory board, will also take a key role in the Prior to joining the Obama administration, he founded Doctors for America, a nonprofit group

Biden has called for the federal government to take a much more forceful role in ramping up testing supplies, including rapid tests, as well as protective Fauci is by far the most high-profile public health official, and a Biden administration would likely seek more of his input in tackling the coronavirus.

WILMINGTON, Del. —President-elect Joe Biden has selected a close adviser to help lead the nation's response to the coronavirus crisis, tapping a veteran of the Obama administration to serve as America's top doctor as the country suffers from a surging pandemic.

Vivek H. Murthy, a former U.S. Surgeon General, has been asked to reprise the role in an expanded version in the new administration, according to an individual familiar with the decision.

He is expected to be part of a team of health care officials charged with tackling the issue Biden said would his top priority upon taking office, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because decisions have not been officially announced.

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Biden ' s transition team declined to comment or make Zients available for an interview. Biden has made fighting the intensifying pandemic his top priority "The COVID czar will have to make decisions on just how deferential to business to be," said Jeff Hauser, head of the Revolving Door Project, a

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On Thursday, Biden told CNN that Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, would serve as a chief medical adviser and help his administration with its coronavirus response plan. Fauci, who served on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, has been attacked by the president in recent months as he has contradicted the White House’s message that the pandemic is under control and on the verge of disappearing.

“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well and be part of the covid team,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Biden’s health care team will be crucial to the success or failure of his presidency, far more than for most administrations. He is posed to take office during a raging pandemic that has killed roughly 275,000 Americans and counting, and at a time when many Republicans are trying to undo the Affordable Care Act, a law that provides insurance to millions.

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Coronavirus response team member Dr . Deborah Birx, appointed by former president Obama to serve as United Head of NIAID is Dr Anthony Fauci , the person at the center of the Trump Administration virus According to the NIH, the collaboration between the organizations will focus on 2 key areas.

President-elect Joe Biden seeks to unite nation with victory speech. But the political reality of a still-polarized nation , a divided government in Washington and the difficulty of solving the nation ' s Covid -19 The task force will be headed by three co -chairs: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

Biden also said Thursday he would ask Americans on the first day of his presidency to commit to wearing a mask for a limited period in an effort to bring the transmission rates down from their current record levels.

“Just 100 days to mask, not forever — 100 days,” he told CNN. “And I think we’ll see a significant reduction.”

Fauci said separately Thursday that he had begun speaking with the incoming administration about plans for controlling the deadly virus and distributing a vaccine in the new year.

Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, a position he’s held since 1984. Ordinarily, Biden’s decision to keep him on would not be noteworthy, but as he’s come under fire from Trump, Fauci has emerged as a national symbol of sound medical advice.

Biden’s comments came against the backdrop of two grim daily records set by the U.S. on Wednesday, as more than 200,000 new coronavirus cases were reported and more than 100,000 patients were hospitalized.

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“ A nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed.” Here is a transcript of Mr. Biden ’ s remarks as they were prepared for delivery. To my campaign team , and all the volunteers, to all those Our work begins with getting Covid under control. We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or

Other officials who have been advising Biden on covid-19 and could potentially take key roles in the White House include Jeff Zients, who served as a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, and Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine who specializes in health care inequities. Politico reported Thursday that Zients was expected to become coronavirus coordinator and Nunez-Smith would also take a senior position in Biden’s White House.

Murthy may also receive a White House title, beyond his surgeon general position, to signify that he is a central member of the team battling the pandemic, according to a person familiar with the matter, who said it was possible Murthy and Zients could be designated co-leaders of the effort.

One of the team’s central challenges will be overseeing the logistically and ethically complex distribution of a coronavirus vaccine once it is approved. The decisions about who will fill these crucial health care jobs are not yet final, according to individuals familiar with the transition team’s work.

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[Watch: Vivek Murthy speaks on a covid vaccine]

The search for a secretary of health and human services, the nation’s top health official, appears to still be underway, with at least three people widely believed to have been under consideration no longer in contention. No current front-runner is visible.

The position faced considerable turbulence under Trump; Tom Price, his first HHS secretary, resigned under an ethics cloud, and current Secretary Alex Azar has confronted the president’s periodic displeasure.

Murthy had been one of the candidates under consideration by the Biden transition team for HHS secretary, but Biden’s transition leaders appear to be leaning toward a governor or someone else with more extensive management experience. Murthy is trained in internal medicine, has a public health background and is regarded as a skillful communicator, but has not run a bureaucracy on the scale of HHS.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) had been considered a leading candidate for HHS secretary, but she was said this week to be out of the running. Another prospect, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), told Rhode Island’s WPRI 12 News on Thursday that she would not be taking the job.

“I am not going to be President-elect Biden’s nominee for HHS secretary,” she said. “My focus is right here in Rhode Island, as I have said.”

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The statement was another jolt to a process that has seen several candidates floated as possibilities before quickly disappearing from contention.

In an interview on Thursday, Lujan Grisham said it was “flattering” to have been mentioned in connection with the HHS job and that she “deeply cares” about health care. But she said she has not had specific conversations about any particular position with members of Biden’s team.

“I have not talked to them,” she said. A co-chair of Biden’s transition efforts since September, Lujan Grisham said she is “honored to do the transition work that I’m doing” and that Biden will ultimately pick a well-qualified HHS secretary.

“He’s got lots of folks to choose from,” said Lujan Grisham, who has been overseeing her own state’s response to a coronavirus surge that is overwhelming New Mexico hospitals.

The Biden team offered Lujan Grisham the role of interior department secretary, but she declined, a source familiar with the events said. On Thursday, the Democratic Governors Association announced that Lujan Grisham would serve as its chair for 2021.

The Biden team appears to be sending a message that it will be different from the Trump administration, which has often seemed at war with its own public health agencies. Trump criticized Fauci’s assessments and blasted the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine approval process, while flouting mask-wearing and other measures urged by his own public health officials.

Ronald A. Klain, tapped to be Biden’s White House chief of staff, is likely to be particularly attuned to the covid-19 pandemic in part because he coordinated the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

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As the pandemic enters a critical phase, with experts predicting an explosion of cases during the cold winter season, medical and public health advocates are pressing the Biden transition to include in the new administration’s Cabinet at least one person with a background in medicine or public health, whether that is Murthy or someone else.

Leana S. Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University and a former Baltimore health commissioner, wrote on Twitter that she was “thrilled” with Murthy’s appointment and would like to see the position given greater prominence.

“Medical groups are pushing for Surgeon General being a Cabinet role,” she wrote Thursday. “Pres-elect @JoeBiden should heed this, as he has with climate post, to solidify importance of public health in administration.”

Murthy, 43, served as surgeon general from late 2014 until a few months into Trump’s tenure. He issued the first surgeon general’s report on addiction, at a time when opioid overdoses had become a national crisis. Since then, Murthy has written a book about loneliness, which he casts as an epidemic in America.

Zients, who led the Obama administration’s National Economic Council, does not have a background in medicine or public health. But he maintains a close relationship with Biden, and he is credited with helping repair healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance enrollment website, after a rocky rollout in 2013.

Fauci said Thursday that he had recently spoken with Zients, who is a co-chair of the Biden transition team, and expects to have more substantive talks with the team. Those talks, long delayed after the Trump administration spent weeks declining to acknowledge that Biden had won the election, were set to begin in earnest Thursday, Fauci said in an interview with MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”

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“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “It likely will be the first of a series of normal type of transition undertaking.”

Nominations for other key health care positions could be announced as early as next week, according to people familiar with the planning.

Coordination between the various agencies and positions will be critical because of the worsening coronavirus crisis, which has killed at least 275,000Americans and is rapidly spreading in much of the country, said Max Skidmore, a political science professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and the author of a book on presidential responses to pandemics.

Skidmore said Biden would need to choose a team that could coordinate strategy smoothly between various government agencies, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the National Institutes of Health and the FDA.

“All of these and others need to have a unified approach,” Skidmore said. “We need a unified national program for public health, which we do not have, and that requires a team, but it also requires coordination of the team.”

Meanwhile, Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris also made progress in building up her team, announcing Thursday that she had chosen Tina Flournoy as chief of staff, tapping an operative with decades of Washington experience to help run the vice-presidential operation.

Harris’s longtime aide Rohini Kosoglu will serve as her domestic policy adviser, and former ambassador to Bulgaria Nancy McEldowney will advise Harris on national security.

Flournoy had been serving as chief of staff to former president Bill Clinton, hovering out of the direct Washington spotlight for a few years after serving in several prominent roles in the Democratic Party throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Griff Witte, Matt Viser and Chelsea Janes contributed to this report.

Shraddha Arya, Vivek Murthy are posing for a picture: President-elect Joe Biden at a health briefing in late October with former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine at New York University. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post President-elect Joe Biden at a health briefing in late October with former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine at New York University.

See Duchess Kate's Fabulous Winter Style During the U.K. Train Tour .
Winter wardrobe #goals! Kate Middleton dazzled throughout her three-day tour of the United Kingdom in an array of stylish coats and holiday hues. Check Out Duchess Kate’s Best Coats and Jackets Over the Years for Some Seasonal Inspo Read article From Sunday, December 6, to Tuesday, December 8, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge traveled around the U.K. to thank the COVID-19 pandemic essential workers. A press release from Kensington Palace noted that the two were set to “travel 1,250 miles and undertake working visits, meeting frontline workers, volunteers, care home staff, teachers, schoolchildren and young people to hear about their experiences, sacrifices and the inspiring work they have done throughout this challenging year.” Kate Middleton’s a Proud Outfit Repeater, Just Like Us! See Her Best Recycled Looks From Over the Years Read article During these official outings, the duchess, 38, opted for flawlessly tailored coats in green, red and blue hues. And many of these she’s even been spotted in before! After all, sustainable fashion is the only way forward. Our favorite number was probably the red Alexander McQueen coat that she wore while Cardiff Castle in Wales on Tuesday, December 8. She wore the slick piece over a black turtleneck, a tartan Emilia Wickstead midiskirt that matched her plaid scarf, Ralph Lauren boots and Grace Han top-handle bag. Honestly, the bright and cheerful look was arguably one of the royal’s most perfectly coordinated looks of all time.

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