Biden-Harris transition team announces COVID-19 Advisory Board


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Blaire Bryant

Legislative Director – Health | Large Urban County Caucus
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Sarah Gimont

Associate Legislative Director – Environment, Energy & Land Use

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Key Takeaways

On November 9, President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s transition team announced the formation of its Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. The panel is comprised of thirteen scientists and public health experts who will advise the incoming Biden administration on various facets of COVID-19 mitigation including infection surges, ensuring vaccine safety and efficacy, and working to distribute a vaccine efficiently and equitably. The advisory board’s recommendations will help to guide the federal government’s COVID-19 strategy and will impact how counties, as frontline health care providers, continue to manage the current public health crisis.

The advisory board will be co-chaired by:

  • Dr. David Kessler, a Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Kessler served as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 1990 to 1997.

  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, who served as Surgeon General from 2014 to 2017. He previously served as the Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

  • Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health and Management at Yale University and the Associate Dean for Health Equity Research at the Yale School of Medicine.

Click here to view remaining board members. Although none of the selected members have origins in county public health, the below members have backgrounds in city and state level health:

  • Dr. Celine Gounder, a clinical Assistant Professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Gounder served as Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Bureau of Tuberculosis Control at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

  • Dr. Julia Morita, Executive Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Morita served as Health Commissioner for the City of Chicago and has served on national, state and local health committees, including the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the U.S.

  • Dr. Michael Osterholm, Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and the director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. From 1975 to 1999, Osterholm served in the Minnesota Department of Health.

According to the announcement, the advisory board will consult with both state and local officials to develop a vaccine distribution strategy, provide economic relief, tackle racial and ethnic disparities, and reopen schools and businesses. Counties will be critical in these efforts and will play an integral role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. NACo will continue to track and report on new developments regarding COVID-19 and to advocate for county priorities as the federal response under the Biden administration as it begins to take shape.

For more information on NACo’s COVID-19 resources please visit the NACo COVID-19 resource hub.

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