President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that Dr. Ashish Jha will be the new White House coronavirus response coordinator.
Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and a practicing internist, will replace Jeffrey Zients, who plans to leave his post to return to private life, Biden said in a statement.
"Dr. Jha is one of the leading public health experts in America, and a well known figure to many Americans from his wise and calming public presence," Biden said in the White House release.
"And as we enter a new moment in the pandemic — executing on my National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and managing the ongoing risks from COVID-19 — Dr. Jha is the perfect person for the job."
Officials said the federal response to COVID-19 would become more of a long-term public health effort, and less of a crisis requiring immediate government action, now that much of the country is vaccinated, The New York Times reported.
If new COVID-19 variants emerge, the 51-year-old Jha, who has urged an aggressive approach to the pandemic, can draw upon the tools his predecessor put in place during the past 14 months, the Times said.
"Americans are safely moving back to more normal routines, using the effective new tools we have to enable us to reduce severe COVID-19 cases and make workplaces and schools safer," Biden said in his statement.
"But our work in combating COVID-19 is far from done."
The president mentioned that among the government's duties going forward will be to provide more COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks; preparing for new waves and variants; and funding the vital steps to stay ahead of the virus.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain called Zients, 55, a "once-in-a-generation managerial talent" and praised the entrepreneur and management consultant for his work on getting Americans access to vaccines and tests.
"Today, over 215 million Americans are fully vaccinated. Americans have received over 1billion at-home tests, 98% of schools are open and our economy is recovering," Klain said in a statement, the Times reported.
"Through the ups and downs of this past year, Jeff met every challenge with a level head and laser-focused execution. Because of that, lives have been saved here at home and in countless other countries."
A new poll finds that most Americans no longer worry about contracting COVID-19.
The Economist/YouGov poll reports that 56% of those responding said they were not too worried, or worried at all, about getting COVID-19, considering their risk factors and the seriousness of the disease, compared with 46% that said they were somewhat or very worried.
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