Elected President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for urgent action against the coronavirus pandemic as he introduced a health care team that will be tested at every turn as he strives to restore the nation to normalcy.
Biden set out three Covid-19 priorities for his first 100 days in office: a call for all Americans to voluntarily disguise themselves during those 100 days, a commitment to administer 100 million vaccines and a promise to try to resume a majority of the country’s schools .
“I know that from our collective pain we will find our collective purpose: to control the pandemic, to save lives and to heal as a nation,” Biden said.
At the top of the electoral roll was Health Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra, a Latino politician who rose from humble beginnings to serve in Congress and as California’s attorney. Others include a businessman known for his crisis management skills and a quartet of doctors, among them Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading specialist in communicable diseases.
The usual comfortable affirmations accompanied by such cover-ups were overshadowed by urgency, with new cases of Covid-19 averaging more than 200,000 per day and deaths averaging over 2,200 daily as the nation struggles with uncontrolled spread.
Vaccines are expected soon. Scientific advisers to the government meet on Thursday to give a recommendation on the first, a Pfizer shot already being administered in the UK.
In fact, President Donald Trump held his own event on Tuesday to take credit for his administration’s work to accelerate vaccine development.
But having an approved vaccine is one thing and getting it in the arms of 330 million Americans is something completely different. Biden will be judged on how well his administration performs the gigantic task.
On Tuesday, the president-elect warned that his team’s preliminary review of the Trump administration’s vaccination plans has been flawed. And he called on Congress to pass legislation to fund the administration of vaccines when they become more available next year. It would effectively close the loop, from laboratory to patient.
The rest of Biden’s extensive care agenda, from extending insurance coverage to negotiating prescription drug prices, is likely to depend on how his administration performs in this first test of competence and credibility.
Becerra, Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, will be supported in the White House by businessman Jeff Zients, who will take on the role of coronavirus response coordinator. Running complex high-risk operations is his specialty.
Alongside Fauci, the other physicians selected specialize in infectious diseases Rochelle Walensky to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vivek Murthy as Surgeon General and Yale Epidemiologist Marcella Nunez-Smith as the head of a working group to ensure a fair and fair distribution of vaccines. and treatments.
Participating in the video, Fauci Bidens called the 100-day plan “bold but feasible and important in helping the public avoid unnecessary risks and help us save lives.”
He was always the razor and admonished: “The way forward will not be easy. We have had very hard and demanding work in the future. ”
HHS is a $ 1 trillion plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.
When Biden chose Becerra as his health secretary, he knocked on a prominent defender of the Affordable Care Act. But Becerra, 62, will face questions in his Senate confirmation if he has sufficient health and management experience.
As a member of Congress, Becerra played an insider role that helped steer “Obamacare” to the crossing, and as California’s attorney general, he leads a coalition of democracies that seeks to block the Trump administration’s recent attempts to overthrow it. He has been less involved in the daily work of fighting the coronavirus.
Becerra would be the first Latino to serve as US Secretary of Health. When he announced his election on Tuesday, Biden initially stumbled upon the Spanish pronunciation of Becerra’s name.
But Biden was drawn to Becerra’s working class roots, his long-standing attempts to increase access to care, and his willingness to work with Republicans to solve problems such as giving patients access to COVID-19 treatments.
By accepting its nomination via video link, Becerra called it a “breathtaking opportunity” to help shape the future of healthcare.
“I share the determination of the President-elect and Vice-President to restore unity and unity in America,” he added.
Biden is under pressure from other Democrats to ensure that his cabinet is versatile. Black and Asian American groups are pushing for more representation.
Biden’s election of Becerra evens out, but does not stop, concerns from the Spanish Congress in the Congress about the Latino representation. Becerra’s mother emigrated from Mexico, and his US-born father spent his formative years in that country.
When California Gov. Jerry Brown named Becerra California’s chief prosecutor in late 2016. Becerra immediately struck a warlike tone against the incoming Trump administration.
Defending California’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act was a major priority, but he also focused on protecting young immigrants from deportation and defending California’s climate change laws.
As HHS secretary, Becerra would be responsible for overseeing the refugee office, which handles unaccompanied minors entering the United States illegally. Becerra has helped lead a coalition of county attorneys who agreed with the Trump administration’s child separation policy.
The Republicans immediately made their lines of attack clear. Senator John Cornyn of Texas claimed Becerra was unqualified because he lacked ties to the health or pharmaceutical industries. Indiana Senator Mike Braun blew up his support for “Medicare for All,” which is not Biden’s policy. Opponents of abortion have called Becerra “unacceptable.”
The HHS secretary’s job requires political contacts, communication skills, leadership skills, a willingness to learn more about complex medical issues and a creative legal mind to use major regulatory powers without settling the lost trial.
Becerra will need to establish ties with governors who will play major roles in distributing the coronavirus vaccine.