President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday the members of a COVID-19 advisory board as he transitions into the White House. The roster of experts and doctors will help guide his administration as it confronts a rapidly worsening crisis that has already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and infected millions more.
The board will be co-chaired by three public health heavyweights: Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Bill Clinton, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served as surgeon general under President Barack Obama, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor of public health at Yale University.
The board will also include a slate of global health experts, infectious disease researchers and doctors.
“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 a statement. “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.”
The nation will likely still be gripped by the coronavirus as Biden returns to Washington in January unless President Donald Trump uses his final months in office to institute a range of aggressive policies to get COVID-19 under control. But such actions would fall in opposition to his monthslong effort to undermine public health experts and declare the country past the worst of the pandemic.
“I will spare no effort, none, or any commitment to turn around this pandemic,” Biden said in his victory speech Saturday, which was held outdoors and with a socially distanced crowd due to the pandemic.
More than 237,000 people have died from the virus and the U.S. set a new record on Saturday after the country recorded 126,742 new infections in a 24-hour period. The nation also neared 10 million infections on Sunday, the last million being recorded in just a 10-day period as cases continue to skyrocket across the country.
Biden has been working with Kessler and Murthy for months and has spent the past few days assuring the public that he will enter the Oval Office with an aggressive plan in place. NBC News reported Sunday that he will personally begin calling governors around the country to encourage them to enact mask mandates and move down the line of power to local mayors to do so if he meets resistance.
“I want everyone to know on day one, we’re going to put our plan to control this virus into action,” Biden said in a speech on Friday. “We can’t save any of the lives lost — any of those that have been lost — but we can save a lot of lives in the months ahead.”
The other members of the advisory board are: Dr. Luciana Borio, Dr. Rick Bright, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Dr. Atul Gawande, Dr. Celine Gounder, Dr. Julie Morita, Dr. Michael Osterholm, Loyce Pace, Dr. Robert Rodriguez and Dr. Eric Goosby.