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Biden-Harris Transition Covid Task Force Announced

President-elect Biden made clear during the campaign that he will "follow the science" in tackling the number one priority of his administration—gaining control of the coronavirus. The 13-member task force with three co-chairs was announced Monday.
November 11, 2020, 11am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"As the number of infected Americans passed 10 million and governors struggled to manage the pandemic, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. tried on Monday to use his bully pulpit — the only tool at his disposal until he replaces President Trump in 72 days — to plead for Americans to set aside the bitterness of the 2020 election and wear a mask," reported White House correspondent Michael D. Shear for The New York Times on Nov. 9. 

“It doesn’t matter who you voted for, where you stood before Election Day,” Mr. Biden said in Delaware after announcing a Covid-19 advisory board charged with preparing for quick action once he is inaugurated...“We can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives — American lives.”

Shear reports on escalating cases of coronavirus throughout the country. The main concern is the increase in COVID hospitalizations that threatens to overwhelm the country's healthcare infrastructure, thus placing anyone that seeks medical attention in jeopardy.

"Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States hit an all-time high of 61,964 on Tuesday [tallied by the Covid Tracking Project], and new daily cases passed 135,000 for the first time, as the raging pandemic continued to shatter record after record and strain medical facilities," notes the Times Covid-19 Live Updates on Nov 10.

"At Mr. Biden’s closed-door briefing with his Covid advisory board, which took place remotely over a video conference call on Monday, three leaders of the panel provided updates on the pandemic while others members of the group introduced themselves, according to a person familiar with the discussion," adds Shear.

Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board members

"The advisory board is co-chaired by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Yale associate professor of medicine and epidemiology," reports Eric Levenson for CNN who describes the backgrounds for all 13 members, including:

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and bioethicist, was a health adviser for Obama from 2009 to 2011 when he helped craft the Affordable Care Act. He advised Biden during his campaign.

Rick Bright, an immunologist and virologist, oversaw the government's production and purchase of vaccines before his abrupt dismissal in April. He filed an extensive whistleblower complaint this spring alleging that his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that his caution at hydroxychloroquine led to his removal.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, who heads the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota and served as the Minnesota state epidemiologist for 15 years, was also selected as an advisor. On Monday, he told CNN"It will not surprise me if in the next weeks we see over 200,000 new [COVID-19] cases a day."

Vaccine announced

Not all coronavirus news is grim. The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial showed that it is 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection, reports the Times.

Independent scientists have cautioned against hyping early results before long-term safety and efficacy data has been collected. And no one knows how long the vaccine’s protection might last. Still, the development makes Pfizer the first company to announce positive results from a late-stage vaccine trial, vaulting it to the front of a frenzied global race that began in January and has unfolded at record-breaking speed.

President-elect Biden congratulated Pfizer on their accomplishment but warned that "it will be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country."

"Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact."

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Published on Monday, November 9, 2020 in The New York Times
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