Biden proposes Latino to head HHS, taps Fauci for medical advisor
Washington, Dec 7 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced several members of his incoming administration’s health care team, headed by current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and he tapped epidemiologist Dr. Anthony Fauci to be his chief medical advisor amid a worrying nationwide resurgence in Covid-19 cases.
“This trusted and accomplished team of leaders will bring the highest level of integrity, scientific rigor, and crisis-management experience to one of the toughest challenges America has ever faced – getting the pandemic under control so that the American people can get back to work, back to their lives, and back to their loved ones,” Biden said in a statement.
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Becerra will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Becerra, who is of Mexican origin, has more than 20 years of legislative experience as a 12-term US congressman from California, was the first high-ranking Hispanic in Congress, helped to push for approval of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and last month headed the defense of that law in the US Supreme Court.
In addition, Biden announced that he will keep Fauci, whose popularity has grown in the US as the medical spokesman for the outgoing Donald Trump administration, in his current role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but he will also be the incoming president’s chief advisor on Covid-19.
Fauci, the country’s top expert in infectious diseases and an advisor to six presidents, including Trump, with whom he has had significant differences regarding the strategy to combat the coronavirus, will continue to be an “essential voice” for Biden in informing the public on health matters.
Biden, who will take office on Jan. 20, 2021, little by little will continue to fill in the gaps in the profile of his administration by announcing more of his picks to fill key posts in the coming weeks, officials who will be on the front lines in dealing with the country’s dire economic and health crisis.
So far, Biden has announced his candidates for important posts such as secretary of state (Anthony Blinken), treasury secretary (Janet Yellen) and national security chief (Alejandro Mayorkas).
Nevertheless, certain key posts still remain to be announced, including defense secretary and US attorney general.
The president-elect has said that his administration will be “the most diverse” ever in terms of racial and gender makeup.
Meanwhile, the country is experiencing a new surge in Covid-19 cases, amid experts’ warnings that the US is facing the worst winter in its history from the standpoint of public health.
Several states have announced new mobility restrictions to try and contain the pandemic, including California, the most populous state with 40 million residents.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state was at a tipping point in terms of its fight against the virus and must now take decisive action to prevent the local hospital system from being overwhelmed in the coming weeks as Covid-19 cases mount.
The US is the country that has been hardest hit by the pandemic and is rapidly approaching 15 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 300,000 deaths, according to the independent tally being kept by The Johns Hopkins University.
The current death toll of more than 282,400 markedly exceeds the Trump White House’s initial top projection for Covid-19 deaths of 240,000.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, on whose models the US government often has relied for forecasts of the progression of the pandemic, calculates that when Trump leaves office on Jan. 20 more than 400,000 people will have died from Covid-19 in this country, and some 540,000 will have died by April 1.