Nov. 9 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced a new COVID-19 advisory task force, drawn from the ranks of public health experts and scientists, to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
Biden's transition team revealed the 13-member task force will be co-chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler and Marcella Nunez-Smith, a public health expert at the Yale School of Medicine.
Other members are: Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Dr. Luciana Borio, Dr. Rick Bright, Dr. Atul Gawande, Dr. Celine Gounder, Dr. Julie Morita, Dr. Michael Osterholm, Dr. Robert Rodriguez, Dr. Eric Goosby and global health expert Loyce Pace, Biden's team said.
Twelve of the advisory team members are medical doctors, signaling Biden's intention to follow through on promises to use a "science-based" approach to taming the coronavirus.
"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," Biden said.
"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."
Later, during a televised briefing, Biden urged Americans to put aside their political differences and put the health of others first by wearing face masks.
"I implore you, wear a mask," he said, calling it the "single most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of COVID."
A mask, he said, "is not a political statement but it is a good way to start pulling the country together."
Biden's team said Sunday Murthy and Kessler would head the task force.
Bright, the former director of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was removed from the federal post in April. He filed a whistleblower complaint and said he was removed after he resisted Trump administration efforts to make potentially harmful drugs widely available as a coronavirus treatment.
Bright testified in Congress in May that the Health and Human Services Department was dismissive of his "dire predictions" about the potential impact of COVID-19 and was unwilling to act on his recommendation that the United States ramp up production of face masks, respirators and other critical supplies.
The United States saw a new record in COVID-19 cases on Sunday, nearly 128,000, pushing its total since the start of the pandemic to nearly 10 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Cases have been on the rise for the past two weeks and reflect what many experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have predicted with the arrival of colder weather and flu season. Fauci has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.