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Biden picks new health chiefs

作者:admin 2020-12-08

Biden picks new health chiefs

Joe Biden. Photo: VCG

US President-elect Joe Biden has made his selections for two key public health positions, sources said on Sunday, as he prepares to take office in January 2021 as the coronavirus pandemic rages to new levels across the US.

Biden plans to nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as secretary of health and human services, two sources said, placing the Latino former congressman in a critical role battling the pandemic.

The former vice president is also expected to nominate Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to run the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person familiar with the decision said.

The choice of Becerra, 62, who also had been considered a candidate for US attorney general, came as Biden faced more pressure to add diversity to his Cabinet appointments, including complaints from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about the lack of Latinos.

Becerra will lead the health agency as it struggles to handle a resurgence of coronavirus, including record infections and a daily death toll that has exceeded 2,000 in recent days, and prepares a mammoth effort to vaccinate Americans against the virus.

Neither Becerra nor Walensky could be reached for immediate comment. A spokesman for Biden's transition declined to comment.

Biden named some top members of his health team last week, and is expected to roll out the full team this week.

"Biden is living up to his commitment to make the Cabinet a reflection of diversity," said Robert Garcia, Mayor of Long Beach, California, and a longtime ally of Becerra and Biden.

Garcia said Becerra "has a strong record on healthcare but I think it goes beyond that. The president-elect selected someone with the highest levels of integrity and intellect."

In Congress, Becerra played a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act - former president Barack Obama's key domestic policy achievement. In his current role, Becerra leads the coalition of 20 states defending the program better known as Obamacare, including before the Supreme Court in November.

Biden has asked Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, to stay on as chief medical adviser.


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