White House Appoints New COVID Czar As Cases Wane

March 17, 2022   |   Tags:
White House Appoints New COVID Czar As Cases Wane

As COVID cases have declined dramatically across the US (although there have been some signs about a potential resurgence via wastewater monitoring), the Biden Administration has selected a new COVID czar who will be responsible with overseeing America's return to the office (or at least so the Biden Administration hopes). 

Ashish Jha

Public health expert Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, will take over as the White House's top COVID advisor be tasked with helping workplaces and schools "cope with COVID" as millions of workers and students readjust to in-person work and education, while also preparing for possible future waves and variants. Jha previously led research into the Ebola virus and has regularly served as a medical expert on television shows.

The change comes as Pfizer and Moderna push for the authorization of a fourth COVID booster for Americans.

Jha will succeed Jeffrey Zients, a former director of the National Economic Council during the Obama Administration, as the White House coronavirus coordinator.

President Biden thanked Zients for his service, and praised Jha as one of the country's leading public-health experts.

"Jeff spent the last 14 months working tirelessly to help combat COVID," Biden said. "He is a man of service and an expert manager. I will miss his counsel and I’m grateful for his service."

[...]

"Dr. Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well-known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence," Biden said. "And as we enter a new moment in the pandemic -- executing on my National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan and managing the ongoing risks from Covid -- Dr. Jha is the perfect person for the job."

But as Bloomberg noted, the change comes as Western Europe and South Korea have reported case spikes in recent days, suggesting the possibility of a fresh wave of infections.

The change comes as the White House has been plagued by recent COVID infections.

Vice President Kamala Harris’s husband, Doug Emhoff and eight House Democrats tested positive for coronavirus infections in recent days, and Biden’s plans to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin were thrown into turmoil when the taoiseach tested positive on Wednesday. The White House has said the president is not a close contact of any of the individuals, and that he tested negative on Sunday.

While Dr. Anthony Fauci has been the government official most closely associated with the COVID pandemic, he is technically the president's chief medical advisor, along with his longtime role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

One of Jha's first tasks will be convincing Congress to approve new funding for the response. The administration sought $22.5 billion as part of an omnibus government funding package but talks collapsed as Republicans demanded spending offsets and questioned the need for new funds.

Tyler Durden Thu, 03/17/2022 - 18:45


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