Dr. Ashish Jha Named New White House COVID Coordinator

THURSDAY, March 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he has named Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, to replace Jeff Zients as the country’s COVID-19 coordinator when Zients leaves his post next month.

In a statement about Jha’s appointment, Biden highlighted his communication skills and familiarity to Americans through his cable news appearances, the Associated Press reported.

“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,” Biden said.

That plan was released by Zients and his team earlier this month and outlines how people can safely resume normal activities as pandemic restrictions and mandates are lifted, the AP reported.

Jha’s appointment comes as the Biden administration has been under fire for confusing public messaging on the coronavirus as pandemic measures are eased.

Still, Zients and his team made “stunning” and “consequential” progress against the coronavirus pandemic, Biden said, the AP reported.

“When Jeff took this job, less than 1% of Americans were fully vaccinated; fewer than half our schools were open; and unlike much of the developed world, America lacked any at-home COVID tests,” Biden said in his statement. “Today, almost 80% 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.”

Zients was brought on by Biden before he took office to craft and deliver a federal government response to the pandemic, including boosting supply and distribution of vaccines, therapeutics and tests.

Before serving as the White House COVID-19 coordinator, Zients was vice chair of Biden’s transition. In the Obama administration, he was the director of the National Economic Council, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and he led the effort to fix HealthCare.gov after its chaotic rollout in 2013.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: Associated Press