December 7, 2020 9:57 AM | With information from EFE
15 minutes. The president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, announced to the key members of his health team, led by the current California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, that he will be in charge of leading the response against the pandemic.
The Hispanic politician, with extensive experience in the US Congress, was nominated to be secretary of Health and Human Services and will work alongside Anthony Fauci, who will maintain his current position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH, in English). ). He will also be Biden’s chief medical advisor on COVID-19.
Who is Xavier Becerra?
Becerra has more than 20 years of legislative experience. He became the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, helped drive the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. Last month, he led the defense of this law in the Supreme Court, Biden’s transition team said in a statement.
If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
The name of the prosecutor with Mexican roots previously rang to head the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), although he will eventually head the Health Department. There he will work hand in hand with the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky.
Biden also appointed Vivek Murthy as the next Surgeon General, Marcella Núñez-Smith, new chair of the Working Group on Equity and COVID-19. Additionally, Jeff Zients will serve as coordinator of the Pandemic Response Team and advisor to the President. For her part, Natalie Quillian will be the deputy coordinator of the response to the pandemic.
Fauci will continue to be an “essential voice” with Biden. He is the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases. He has been an advisor to six presidents, including Donald Trump.
The president-elect highlighted the “level of integrity, scientific rigor and experience in crisis management” of the new team. They affirm that the election will allow to face one of the “most difficult challenges” of the country: “to control the pandemic so that the American people can return to work, recover their lives and be reunited with their loved ones.”
The team will focus, he said, on expanding the use of tests to detect the coronavirus. It will also focus on the use of masks and oversee the “safe, equitable and free” distribution of treatments and vaccines.
Its objectives will also be to expand Obamacare. In this way it seeks to reduce medical costs and the price of prescription drugs. This vision is diametrically opposed to that of Donald Trump, who tried unsuccessfully to dismantle it.
The statement from the transition team assures that this working group will restore “public confidence” in the response to the pandemic.
The nominations come when the US approaches 15 million infected and 300,000 deaths from the COVID-19 disease, according to Johns Hopkins University.