President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce the members of his coronavirus task force on Monday, according to news reports.
They will be in charge of preparing a plan to curb the spread of the virus, according to CNBC. This announcement would come as the United States experiences a record spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19. On Friday, the US hit a record of 126,400 cases in a single day.
Axios, who first reported Biden's plan to announce a task force, said it will be led by three co-chairs, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith from Yale University. The report said there would be a total of 12 members on the team.
This announcement would be Biden's first major decision after he defeated President Donald Trump on Saturday to become the 46th president of the United States, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil. His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed the processing of some ballots. Biden crossed 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.
Biden won't be sworn into office until Jan. 20.
“His work needs to begin right now. He needs to begin communicating the urgency of actions with the American people,” Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore health commissioner, told NBC in a phone interview. “His biggest challenge is going to be getting people to follow his recommendations."
Throughout his campaign, Biden has contrasted Trump on the pandemic, arguing that the presidency and federal government exist for such crises. Unlike Trump, he doesn’t believe the leading role in the virus response should belong to state governors, with the federal government in support.
Biden has also endorsed generous federal spending to help businesses and individuals, along with state and local governments, deal with the financial cliffs of the pandemic slowdown. He’s promised aggressive use of the Defense Production Act, the wartime law a president can use to direct manufacture of critical supplies. Trump has used that law on such things as ventilator production.
Biden promises to elevate the government’s scientists and physicians to communicate a consistent message to the public, and he would have the United States rejoin the World Health Organization.
He has promised to use his transition period before taking office to convene meetings with every governor and ask them to impose what would be a nationwide mask mandate because the federal government doesn't have that power. Biden says he would go around holdouts by securing such rules from county and local officials — though enforcement of all such orders may be questionable.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 9.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Saturday, the U.S. had more than 236,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 49 million confirmed cases with more than 1.2 million deaths.
Biden will unveil the group of scientists and experts to help him craft a plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on Monday.
Biden announced his plans to launch the COVID-19 task force during remarks at his victory party Saturday night. He said those advisers would help him take the proposals he’s released during the campaign for dealing with the pandemic — which include investments in personal protective equipment and loans for small businesses as well as plans to implement more standardized public health guidelines — and turn those proposals into a “blueprint” that he’ll enact when inaugurated president next January.
Biden said the plan would be “built on bedrock science” and “constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern.” Biden made Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic a central focus of his campaign and pledged that his top priority as president would be managing the virus.
Biden said that "our work begins with getting COVID under control," adding Americans “cannot repair the economy, restore our economy or relish life’s most precious moments” without doing so.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.