Biden's new chief of staff actually takes viruses seriously

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Ron Klain previously served as the White House Ebola response coordinator under former President Barack Obama.

Ron Klain, the leader of former President Barack Obama's Ebola response effort, has been chosen as President-elect Joe Biden's chief of staff, Biden's White House transition team announced on Wednesday evening.

Klain, who served as Biden's chief of staff from 2009-2011, served as the White House Ebola response coordinator for Obama in 2014 and 2015.

"Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014," Biden said in a statement. "His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again."

Klain said he hopes to aid Biden in unifying the nation.

"It's the honor of a lifetime to serve President-elect Biden in this role, and I am humbled by his confidence. I look forward to helping him and the Vice President-elect assemble a talented and diverse team to work in the White House, as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change, and seek to heal the divides in our country," he said in a statement.

Obama has applauded Klain's work on the Ebola crisis, saying that he took on a "challenge that many called insurmountable, and, in leading the team responsible for tremendous progress, helped remind the world what makes America exceptional," according to Klain's lecturer bio at Harvard Law School.

Most recently, Klain was a senior adviser to Biden's 2020 presidential campaign. Prior to that role, he was general counsel for investment firm Revolution LLC, which AOL founder Steve Case founded in 2005.

Klain also previously worked as an adviser on Biden's 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns. He served as former Vice President Al Gore's chief of staff.

In 2016, he served as a senior adviser to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

As infections from the coronavirus surpass a record 10 million cases and 240,000 deaths in the United States, Biden hopes to lean in on Klain's former experience responding to an epidemic.

In February, Klain testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on how to face the coronavirus crisis, specifically criticizing Donald Trump's early restrictions on Chinese travelers, which Trump has bragged about repeatedly as paramount to his botched pandemic response.

"Unless we think that the color of the passport someone carries is a meaningful public health restriction, we have not placed a meaningful public health restriction," he said at the time, noting that Americans were allowed to travel back and forth between the two countries freely at that same time.

Biden has vowed to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, having already assembled a coronavirus advisory panel with experts to guide his response.

"Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts. The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations," Biden said in a statement Monday.

The president-elect has also said he will ask Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to stay on to continue his response to the pandemic. Fauci, currently a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Tuesday that he has "no intention of leaving."

"We need a president who actually listens to experts like Dr. Fauci," Biden tweeted on the eve of Election Day.

Biden's proactive response to the coronavirus and trust in scientists starkly contrasts with that of Trump, who has ignored experts' advice and sidelined his own task force scientists.

Trump even said previously that he wanted to fire Fauci, who has served under multiple presidents, after the election. "People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots," Trump said last month.

Meanwhile, according to Fauci, Trump hasn't attended a White House coronavirus task force for months.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.