Outgoing Ebola czar Ron Klain listens as President Barack Obama speaks about the Ebola outbreak response by the U.S. in West Africa, in February 2015. President-elect Biden has named Klain as White House chief of staff.

Outgoing Ebola czar Ron Klain listens as President Barack Obama speaks about the Ebola outbreak response by the U.S. in West Africa, in February 2015. President-elect Biden has named Klain as White House chief of staff. Jacquelyn Martin/AP file photo

Coronavirus Roundup: Ebola Czar Named White House Chief of Staff; More White House Staff Infected

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team announced on Wednesday night that senior campaign adviser Ron Klain would be the White House chief of staff. Klain previously served as Biden’s chief of staff when he was vice president as well as Ebola response coordinator in 2014 and 2015. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he’s been extremely vocal about how to mitigate the spread and what the federal government needs to do. 

“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. “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.” Here are some other recent headlines you might have missed.

The White House coronavirus task force is once again warning of the "accelerating" spread of the coronavirus in its weekly reports to states, CNN reported on Wednesday. "The silent community spread that precedes and continues throughout surges can only be identified and interrupted through proactive and increased testing and surveillance,” said the reports sent to several states. The White House is still not making these reports public. 

White House Political Director Brian Jack and two other unnamed officials tested positive for coronavirus, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. At least one of them (Jack) attended the election night viewing party at the White House last week, which led to several others getting infected. 

Since the General Services Administration has yet to ascertain Biden as the winner, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other public health officials cannot interact with the Biden transition team. “Fauci has long-standing relationships with several of the Washington health policy veterans on Biden’s transition team,” Politico reported on Wednesday. “But Trump’s refusal to concede the election means that officials at the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the [National Institutes of Health] cannot legally speak with Biden’s advisers about the progress of vaccine development, plans for distributing an eventual shot or testing capacity — even as coronavirus cases soar to record highs every day.”

While waiting for the green light from GSA, Biden has formed a special transition team focused on coordinating the government’s response to the pandemic, Politico also reported on Wednesday. The 13-member team will be separate from the coronavirus advisory board announced on Monday and will have groups focused on domestic, national security/foreign policy and technology strategy. 

The National Grange, an advocacy organization that represents over 150,000 rural Americans, sent a letter to the Biden transition team on Wednesday to congratulate them and outline priorities for rural Americans. “The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated existing challenges in rural healthcare,” wrote Betsy Huber, National Grange president. “Rural Americans face two dramatic disparities in healthcare: they are older, poorer and sicker on average, and they have less access to healthcare compared to their urban and suburban counterparts. At the same time, healthcare services in rural America are rapidly disappearing, with 128 rural hospitals having closed since 2010 and another 700 vulnerable to closure. This dynamic has been exacerbated by COVID-19 which has led to outbreaks in rural areas overwhelming limited hospital resources, and millions of Americans shut out of healthcare facilities altogether.”

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