Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits MORE announced Saturday he is adding three new members to his transition team's coronavirus task force as the incoming administration focuses on preparation to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The transition said in a statement that Jane Hopkins, Jill Jim and David Michaels are joining the team, which is co-chaired by David Kessler, former Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyFauci joins YouTube coronavirus special aimed at Black community Biden walks fine line with Fox News If you care about the First Amendment, this class action is for you MORE and Marcella Nunez-Smith. The task force is charged with helping Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMeghan McCain predicts DeSantis would put Harris 'in the ground' in 2024 matchup Honeymoon's over: Biden's record may have Americans demanding a divorce The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness MORE and the transition cobble together a “robust and aggressive response to contain the virus.” 

“As COVID-19 surges across the country, I need a team advising me and a transition that offers diverse perspectives and viewpoints. Ms. Hopkins, Dr. Jim, and Dr. Michaels will strengthen the board’s work and help ensure that our COVID-19 planning will address inequities in health outcomes and the workforce,” said Biden.

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Hopkins, a Sierra Leonean immigrant, has worked for more than 20 years as a bedside nurse and has a long history in union work, a choice that appears to reflect Biden’s emphasis on appealing to labor groups. She’s also received the Black Lives Matter Award from the SEIU Washington State AFRAM Caucus.

Jim is the executive director at the Navajo Nation Department of Health and has worked for 18 years in nonprofit, state and federal agencies and tribal government, where she has largely focused on preventing chronic diseases and tackling health inequalities among Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Michaels is an epidemiologist and professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. He also served as assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health during the Obama administration. 

The task force was first rolled out earlier this month and has taken the lead in the Biden transition to craft a plan to tackle an array of issues regarding the pandemic, including bolstering testing and contact tracing and the distribution of a potential vaccine.

The additions to the team come amid an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases across the country. There have been more than 12.9 million confirmed cases in the U.S. since the pandemic began, and cases are rising by more than 100,000 daily.

Nearly 256,000 people in the U.S. have died.