The White House has named 12 members to its newly formed COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force three weeks after President Biden signed an executive order aimed at addressing pandemic-related health and social disparities. The task force, which is chaired by Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, will be charged with issuing recommendations “to help inform the COVID-19 response and recovery.”
Nunez-Smith, who announced that the task force members had been chosen during a White House coronavirus briefing held Wednesday, said that she is “humbled and honored” to have been picked by Biden to serve as chair. Nunez-Smith said the 12 members represent a range of racial and ethnic groups and hail from key constituencies hit hard by the pandemic.
The members are Mayra Alvarez of San Diego, Calif.; Dr. James Hildreth of Nashville, Tenn.; Andrew Imparato of Sacramento, Calif.; Victor Joseph of Tanana, Alaska; Dr. Joneigh Khaldun of Lansing, Mich.; Octavio Martinez of New Braunsfels, Tex.; Dr. Tim Putnam of Batesville, Ind.; Vincent Toranzo of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Mary Turner of Plymouth, Minn.; Dr. Homer Venters of Port Washington, N.Y.; Bobby Watts of Goodlettsville, Tenn.; and Haeyoung Yoon of New York, N.Y.
According to a press release posted by the White House, six additional federal agencies will be represented on the task force as federal members including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice and Department of Labor.
The task force is expected to issue recommendations on the equitable allocation of COVID-19 resources and relief funds, effective outreach and communication to underserved and minority populations, and improving cultural proficiency within the government.
“Additional recommendations include efforts to improve data collection and use, as well as long-term plans to address data shortfalls regarding communities of color and other underserved populations,” the news release said.