Media Outlets Examine President-Elect Biden’s Picks For Key Health Positions, Implications For COVID-19 Response

Science: Biden names HIV researcher to lead CDC
“President-elect Joe Biden has moved to fill two top health positions in his administration, his transition team announced [Monday]. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will be nominated as secretary of health and human services (HHS), and HIV/AIDS researcher Rochelle Walensky of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital has been selected to direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Biden’s choice of Walensky has drawn widespread praise from infectious disease and public health experts, who say her experience as a physician and AIDS researcher and her communication skills will serve her well as director of the country’s premier public health agency during the COVID-19 pandemic…” (Kaiser, 12/7).

STAT: Biden’s health picks signal a bottom-up approach to the Covid-19 pandemic
“President-elect Biden’s pandemic-response strategy took clearer shape this week with the rollout of several surprising appointments — a list that underscores that his Covid-19 response will be led far more by career government scientists and lower-level health agency deputies than has been the case during the Trump administration. … But the mechanics of the government’s response, pandemic experts told STAT, will likely fall increasingly to health agency deputies focused on pandemic response as well as longtime agency scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The strategy would represent a marked contrast from Trump-era pandemic response, where career scientists at several health agencies, especially the CDC, quickly fell out of favor with the White House and played little public role in the federal Covid-19 effort…” (Facher, 12/8).

Washington Post: Biden’s choice to run CDC is a respected specialist who is unafraid to speak her mind
“President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a widely respected infectious-diseases specialist regarded as a strong communicator unafraid to speak her mind, qualities critical to returning the beleaguered public health agency to its traditional front-line role and to bringing the coronavirus pandemic under control. But while Rochelle Walensky’s research has long had a public health focus, she has never run a government agency or organization as large and complex as the CDC…” (Sun, 12/7).

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