President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force has yet to talk to the current administration about the transition, but is “very open” to doing so, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, co-chair of the task force and associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, said Monday.
“It hasn’t happened yet, but we’re very open to that. We would appreciate a chance to work together,” Nunez-Smith said at a news conference with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.
Nunez-Smith said the task force is working very closely with policy teams and that the work of the transition is “driven by the data, by evidence, by science.”
Her planning work is also guided by examining differential impacts on groups disproportionally affected by Covid-19, such as on people of color, and on those who work in medical settings, nursing homes, and prisons, Nunez-Smith said. She added that their goal is to optimize equity and efficiency for all.
Nunez-Smith was also part of Connecticut’s “re-open committee,” which advised state officials on safe reopening practices during the pandemic, Lamont said. Nunez-Smith said she believed the incoming Covid-19 task force could learn a lot from states’ individual responses, and praised the work of Connecticut officials in keeping numbers down relative to the rest of the country.
“At our core, we are committed to ... learning from states ... to really best inform how this transition plan becomes a successful implementation blueprint,” Nunez-Smith said. “We take a posture that there’s a lot to learn from states such as ours.”
As far as full scale distribution of a vaccine, Nunez-Smith said the US is still many months away and that it’s important to continue to wear masks and keep current social bubbles in place. She maintained that it’s imperative to keep hospitalization numbers down to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“Our most precious and valuable resource right now is our health care system” of medical professionals, Nunez-Smith said.
When asked whether she would support a national lockdown, Nunez-Smith used what’s become the Biden campaign’s talking point of “dialing up and dialing down” of responses depending on local conditions, rather than widespread restrictions.
“I tend to very much agree with notion of precision and that we can in fact, when we sort of focus on task, can keep in mind safety and economic recovery,” Nunez-Smith said. “It’s got to be a precise adjustment of the dial up and down. It’s not a light switch.”
CNN’s Maggie Fox and Kelly Christ contributed to this report.