Biden Taps Jha To Lead White House Covid Response; Zients Leaving In April
President Joe Biden named Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, as his next covid coordinator. Jha replaced Jeff Zients, who will depart from the administration next month, along with his deputy Natalie Quillian.
Biden COVID Coordinators Leaving In April, Jha To Take Over
President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients and his deputy Natalie Quillian are leaving the administration next month, the White House announced Thursday. They will be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. Zients, an experienced manager and government executive, was brought on by Biden before he took office to devise and execute a “ wartime” federal government response to the coronavirus pandemic, including shoring up supply and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and tests. His departure comes as the White House is shifting its posture from one of confronting an emergency to nudging Americans back to normalcy as the nation learns to live with a less-severe virus that is likely to remain endemic. (Miller, 3/17)
The New York Times:
Jeff Zients To Leave As Biden’s Covid Czar And Be Replaced By Ashish Jha
Dr. Jha, who is also a health policy researcher with expertise in pandemic preparedness and response, will coordinate the government’s Covid response from inside the White House, officials said. But the selection of a veteran public health expert signaled that Mr. Biden believes the country has moved into a new phase of the fight against the virus. With much of the country vaccinated, officials said the federal response would become more of a long-term public health effort and less of a moment-by-moment crisis requiring rapid government action. If new variants of the virus spread, they said, Dr. Jha will be able to draw upon the tools his predecessor put in place during the past 14 months. (Shear and Gay Stolberg, 3/17)
President Biden Taps Brown’s Ashish Jha To Be Covid Czar As Zients Exits
The departure of Zients, a management consultant and entrepreneur who served as director of the National Economic Council in the Obama administration, comes as the White House has said the pandemic is entering a new phase with a majority of the country vaccinated. Zients spent much of his time securing the purchase and distribution of vaccines, as well as treatments, tests, and protective equipment. During his tenure, around 213 million Americans became fully vaccinated, but in recent weeks the federal government has rolled back masking recommendations and Biden has encouraged workers to return to work in person. (Sink, 3/17)
Biden Names Dr. Ashish Jha New Covid Response Coordinator, To Replace Jeff Zients
Biden noted that when Zients first took on the role, less than 1 percent of people in the U.S. were fully vaccinated against Covid, fewer than half of schools were open and the country lacked at-home Covid tests. "Today, almost 80 percent of adults are fully vaccinated; over 100 million are boosted; virtually every school is open; and hundreds of millions of at-home tests are distributed every month," Biden said. "In addition, the U.S. leads the global effort to fight Covid, delivering more free vaccines to other countries than every other nation on Earth. The progress that he and his team have made is stunning and, even more important, consequential. Lives have been saved." (Shabad, 3/17)
How will Jha approach the federal pandemic response? A recent opinion piece offers a glimpse —
The New York Times:
Opinion: We’ve Entered A New Phase Of The Pandemic. It’s Time For New Metrics.
New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for community masking are a welcome change. They are reasonable, well-timed and consistent with the science that needs to be guiding the United States’ pandemic response. They also mark a turning point for how people, institutions and governments should respond to the coronavirus. ... This change may feel like a sharp break from prior guidance, and in some ways, it is. But at this point in the pandemic, the change is also entirely appropriate. (Dr. Ashish Jha, 2/25)