Biden will announce a 12-person coronavirus anti-virus task force on Monday, two sources familiar with CNN said. The announcement is meant to denote the seriousness that the president-elect plans to focus on a pandemic that reached record daily infections last week.
The task force will be headed by three people: former joint surgeon Vivek Murthy, former member of the Food and Drug Administration David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith of Yale University. Additional members will be announced on Monday.
The priority of the task force announcement underscores the urgency of the pandemic and Biden’s intention to try to bring back the nation’s attention to the virus. The group, along with Biden and Harris, plan to hold regular televised briefings about the crisis, aides said.
It is reminiscent of the focus Biden, and former President Barack Obama, have on the economy when they won the White House 12 years ago amid a deep economic crisis. Aides say it’s thinking Biden is heading towards the coronavirus, in hopes of trying to prevent the pandemic from getting worse before they take office on Jan. 20.
The coronavirus infected the presidential election and caused a marked split in the race, with Biden pledging to take the pandemic seriously, while Trump downplayed the importance of the virus and often complained that it has been focusing too much on the election campaign – even after he signed himself.
Despite Trump’s comments that the virus will quickly disappear and the country is “about to fill,” the pandemic has escalated over the past week as votes continue to be tallying across the country. On Friday, there were 126,480 new cases daily, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the third consecutive day the country surpassed 100,000 new cases and the highest reporting date since the pandemic began. head.
Biden’s team planned a transition on Friday, as the former vice president’s win looked imminent.
The Biden transition group, which has been working behind the scenes since Labor Day, also noted candidates for Main Cabinet positions that need Senate confirmation and positions inside the West Wing do not. Cabinet announcements will not take place for several weeks, aides said, and some will likely be delayed much longer until it is known who will control the Senate following the January run-off. Georgia.
Ron Klain, Biden’s longtime advisor and chief of staff in the early years of the Obama administration, was the top candidate for the position of Chief of the White House Secretariat, people close to the process told CNN .
The Biden transition was a powerful effort with two Biden advisers, Jeff Zient and Ted Kaufman, at the forefront of overseeing these ongoing efforts. Anita Dunn, the Biden campaign’s senior adviser and former White House communications director, are among the other co-chairs, along with New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond.
Despite Trump’s continued resistance to the election results, top White House aides have been planning a potential transition for months. The effort is being led by chief of staff Mark Meadows and deputy chief of the policy coordinator Chris Liddell, who has extensive transition experience after leading Mitt Romney’s presidential transition planning team ahead of the election year 2012.
Biden has also committed to naming candidates that reflect the diversity of the nation. The aides said there was early screening on some of the top potential candidates, but things will likely be considered after the election results and as questions remain under control. of the Senate.
Biden’s transformation advisory board includes some considered frontiers for top management positions, such as former national security adviser Susan Rice, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates.
“There is no room for confusion,” said a veteran of the Obama administration, who has informally advised the Biden transition group. “Every Cabinet nomination must be ready for success.”
The president-elect, speaking to the nation before the race was called on Friday night, said the election had given him “the task of action”, nodding to the fact that he believes him and vice president-elect Kamala Harris believes they are defeated by Trump. they have the political weight needed to move rapidly to reverse aspects of the Trump administration, including dealing with his coronavirus.