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'Top notch scientists' Medical officer describes Biden's virus task force leaders

'Top notch scientists' Medical officer describes Biden's virus task force leaders
President-elect Joe Biden, joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaks at The Queen theater, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Just hours after being named president-elect, which President Donald Trump currently disputes, Joe Biden announced a plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

"Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” he said.

That work was laid out right away, with a seven-point plan to respond to the virus and a new 12-person task force.

Leading the effort will be three co-chairs: former surgeon general Vivek Murthy, former FDA commissioner David Kessler, and Yale University's Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.

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“[It’s] a well-rounded group of really top notch scientists who’ll be advising him and we wait just like everyone else to see what their recommendations will be,” said Dr. William Hathaway, Mission Health’s chief medical officer.

Hathaway added that it's still too early to say exactly how that plan could impact anyone in the mountains.

“There’s going to be more federal direction, so we will remain at the ready waiting to see what’s going to happen,” he said.

In the meantime, the focus for Hathaway remains at Mission and on COVID-19 hospitalizations.

“Here in Western North Carolina, we’ve been, you know, across the board somewhere between 35 and 60 in all of the health systems — that includes ours, and UNC Pardee, and AdventHealth, and Duke LifePoint hospitals," he added. "We are, at Mission Hospital, in the 35-40 range over the last week or so.”

He added that lately hospitalizations really haven't gone up, which he believes is due to the different demographic of people becoming infected.

“Younger, healthier people who don’t subsequently require hospitalization,” said Hathaway.

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Additionally, Hathaway believes it's because people are wearing masks, something he hopes continues into the holiday season.

“It would not be a stretch for me to say that we will see increased numbers of cases and some of those people will be hospitalized,” he said when asked specifically about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But, Dr. Hathaway remains hopeful, especially with the latest announcement on the Pfizer vaccine.

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“It offers the promise of getting us the hundreds of millions of doses that we need early on,” he said. “The earliest we would anticipate seeing it is before the end of the year but not in large quantities.”

It’s just another step in the right direction President-elect Biden says he hopes will help beat this virus.

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