This undated photo provided by Yale University shows Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. Addressing racial disparities in the U.S. coronavirus crisis cannot be an afterthought, the top adviser to President-elect Joe Biden on the COVID-19 pandemic response said Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (Yale University via AP)

Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor

As African Americans are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, President- Elect Joe Biden named a Black woman, Yale School of Medicine’s Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, as co-chair of the coronavirus task force. Creating the COVID-19 task force advisory board was one of President-Elect Biden’s first big steps since he was announced President- elect.

“The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations,” Biden said in a statement.

Communities of color are at-risk, and her work and research promoting healthcare equity for marginalized groups is what Dr. Nunez- Smith brings to the table. As the adage goes, “When White America gets a cold, Black America gets the flu.”  

“Everyone is affected by this pandemic, yet the burden is disproportionate,” Dr. Nunez-Smith said in a statement. “We know communities of color are grieving at high rates and are facing substantial economic impact. The transition advisory board is setting a course for everyone in our country to experience recovery.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Black and Brown Americans are more likely to be affected by the rate ratio due to socio-economic class, underlying health issues access to healthcare and more.  Black Americans are 1.4 times, 3.7 times, and 2.8 times more likely to contract COVID-19, be hospitalized from the disease and die, respectively, than their White counterparts. Again looking at cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Hispanic Americans are 1.7 times, 4.1 times and 2.8 times likely to suffer from the horrors of COVID-19 in comparison to White Americans.

With the bleak numbers in the United States- having lost more than 269,000 lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the President-Elect said he is counting on science and experts to help fight the spread of the infectious disease.

“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said.

Dr. Nunez-Smith will join former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy and University of California at San Francisco’s Dr. David Kessler to help guide the new administration’s COVID-19 response. She currently serves at Yale University associate professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health and Management; Founding Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center (ERIC); Director of the Center for Research Engagement (CRE); Deputy Director of the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation among several other ventures, according to the Yale School of Medicine website.

According to social media, Dr. Nunez- Smith is apparently a beloved professor according to social media posts, celebrating her appointment.

My former [Yale Medical School] professor, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, world expert on promoting health equity for marginalized populations, is going to co-chair Biden’s #COVID19 task force,” Twitter user Jack Turban, MD, wrote.  “I’m starting to think things may actually end up okay”

“This gives me hope and I am feeling something weird. I think I might be feeling reassured and hopeful,” a Twitter user replied.


Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor