While Donald Trump continues to make baseless claims of vote fraud following the elections, his successor Joe Biden is already at work as he announces a new COVID-19 task force to assist in the battle against the pandemic that has claimed lives in the U.S.
Among those listed for the newly formed advisory board include Yale School of Medicine professor Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who will be serving as co-chair. Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management, will help lead the new administration’s fight against the coronavirus, the Biden transition team said.
“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 wrote 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.”
With over 236,000 Americans losing their lives due to COVID-19 nationwide, and cases rising in more than 40 states, President-elect Biden recently said he will “spare no effort” in tackling the virus.
“Folks, our work begins with getting COVID under control. We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life’s most precious moments … all the moments that matter most to us, until we get it under control,” he said during his victory speech on Saturday.
Data show that Black and brown people, known as marginalized populations, continue to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, hence tapping a Black woman with skills in that field is ideal, analysts say.
According to her bio by Yale News, Nunez-Smith, the director of Yale’s Center for Community Engagement and Health Equity, the founding director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center, and the medical school’s associate dean for health equity research, studies disparities in healthcare access.
“She was one of the original Clinical and Translational Science Award scholars at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigations, and is now one of the program’s deputy directors,” according to the bio. It adds that she has also chaired the community sub-committee for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, focusing on communities and groups most at risk for severe COVID-19.
The Yale School of Medicine professor, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, now joins 12 other people on Biden’s task force. Her fellow co-chairs are former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler, who is also a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco; and Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General under President Barack Obama who was instrumental in the fight against Ebola, Zika and the Flint water crisis.
Nunez-Smith, who has supported several chronic disease research projects in certain regions in the Caribbean, had already been advising the Biden campaign on the pandemic.
“Our country is facing an unprecedented time with COVID-19 cases accelerating nationwide,” Nunez-Smith was quoted by Yale News. “Everyone is affected by this pandemic, yet the burden is disproportionate. We know communities of color are grieving at high rates and are facing substantial economic impact. The transition advisory board is setting a course for everyone in our country to experience recovery. I’m honored to help lead on that work and thank President-elect Joe Biden for the opportunity to serve.”
There are two other Black people on the task force: Dr. Eric Goosby, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, and Loyce Pace, the executive director and president of the Global Health Council.