Joe Biden, the US president-elect, has chosen Xavier Becerra, the California attorney-general, to be the next US health and human services secretary, as he prepared to unveil the team that will be charged with tackling the pandemic in his administration.
Mr Biden also chose Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to be the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US government agency on the front line of the coronavirus battle.
In a statement on Monday, Mr Biden said the appointments would mark a big change compared with the Trump administration’s approach to Covid-19.
“This trusted and accomplished team of leaders will bring the highest level of integrity, scientific rigour, 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,” he said in a statement.
Mr Biden also said Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease specialist at the National Institutes of Health who has clashed with President Donald Trump over the course of the coronavirus crisis, would remain in his role — and tapped Vivek Murthy as surgeon general. Mr Murthy served in that position during Barack Obama’s administration.
Jeff Zients, a close adviser to Mr Biden and former director of the National Economic Council, will also play a significant role in the coronavirus response.
Mr Biden has made the coronavirus fight one of his top priorities in office, as the country has been badly hit by the latest wave of infections, with some states introducing new lockdowns and other restrictions.
He has been choosing nominees to fill cabinet positions in recent weeks ahead of his inauguration in January, including Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary and Antony Blinken as secretary of state.