Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith’s research promotes health and healthcare equity for structurally marginalized populations.
Joe Biden has quickly gotten to work as the president-elect while his predecessor complains without proof that he’s been defrauded of the presidency. The two decidedly different approaches to leading the country were especially on display Monday after Biden made it official that he had selected a Black woman to co-chair his new coronavirus task to effectively confront the deadly Covid-19 pandemic that has proliferated on Donald Trump‘s watch.
The move to appoint Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith to be one of three doctors to lead the task force made it clear that Biden was making good on his promise of following the science — not politics — in order to finally make some inroads in stopping a virus that has killed at least 238,000 Americans.
The associate professor of internal medicine, public health and management at Yale University is also the associate dean for health equity research at Yale’s medical school who specializes in health care for marginalized populations. Considering the fact that Black and brown people — also known as marginalized populations — continue to be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, calling on a Black woman with expertise in that field makes much more sense than, say, appointing a neurosurgeon-turned futile Trump cabinet member who put himself in a position to contract Covid on the task force. (Ben Carson much?)
In particular, Nunez-Smith’s official Yale bio points to her history of having “established the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN), a research collaborative across four Eastern Caribbean islands, supporting several chronic disease research projects and enhancing health outcomes research and leadership capacity in the region,” showing she’s used to her work involving Black folks, in particular.
Nunez-Smith joins 12 other people on Biden’s task force, including her fellow co-chairs: former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler, who is also a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco; and Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General under President Barack Obama who led the fight against Ebola, Zika and the Flint water crisis.
There are at least two other Black people on the task force: Loyce Pace, the executive director and president of the Global Health Council; and Dr. Eric Goosby, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine who worked in the Clinton administration in an HIV/AIDS program.
That was in comparison to Trump’s version of the task force boasting Black representation from Carson — a medical doctor who repeatedly has not worn masks while attending “superspreader” Trump campaign events, culminating in his own coronavirus infection — and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who found a way to disrespectfully blame Black people for coming down with Covid. Not to mention neither of them has a medical background as appropriate as Nunez-Smith’s for the type of work being on the task force calls for.
The move by Biden to shore up his efforts to fight the coronavirus displayed a seriousness not seen by the Trump administration, possibly providing a glimpse of the president-elect’s agenda on Day 1 after his inauguration next month.