Live politics updates: Biden unveils health team; Clyburn, Whitmer tapped for inaugural committee

William Cummings

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USA TODAY’s coverage of the 2020 election and President-elect Joe Biden’s transition continues this week as he rolls out more of his picks for top jobs in his administration. Meanwhile, the remaining final states certify their vote counts before the Electoral College ballots are officially cast Dec. 14. 

President Donald Trump has cleared the way for Biden’s team to use federal resources and get briefings during the transition, although Trump has yet to formally concede the race.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced the co-chairs for their inaugural committee on Monday. 

Reps. James Clyburn, D-S.C.; Cedric Richmond, D-La.; and Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., will help plan the Jan. 20 event along with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

All were strong proponents of Biden during the campaign, including Clyburn who is widely credited for breathing life into what was a floundering primary campaign for the former vice president. Richmond has been named to serve as a senior White House adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement in the incoming administration. Blunt Rochester, a longtime friend of the Biden family, served on the committee that helped choose Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to be the then-nominee’s running mate. 

The inaugural committee works in coordination with Congress’ planning group on the arrangements for the Capitol ceremony, and organizes inaugural balls and other events surrounding the swearing-in. The format of those events is up in the air amid the global coronavirus pandemic, which has surged across the country.

Last week, Biden named Delaware State University president Tony Allen to serve as CEO of the inaugural committee and campaign chief operating officer Maju Varghese as the group’s executive director.

– William Cummings 

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his team of top health officials Monday morning, a key announcement for an administration that will immediately have to wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic that is infecting an average of more than 200,000 Americans every day.

Biden’s announcement confirmed Sunday’s reports that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is his pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra would be tasked with leading Biden’s fight to contain the virus, including the massive logistical operation that will be required to quickly distribute the coming vaccines to the U.S. population. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, would be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1-trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.

Anthony Fauci, who has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, will act as Biden’s chief medical adviser. 

Biden’s pick to replace Robert Redfield as the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is Rochelle Walensky, the head infectious disease doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard Medical School professor. 

Biden also tapped former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to return to the role he held for the last three years of the Obama administration. 

Jeff Zients, who served as director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration will act as White House counselor and COVID-19 response coordinator. Former White House adviser Natalie Quillian will serve as deputy coordinator. Marcella Nunez-Smith will chair Biden’s COVID-19 equity task force, which will work to address the disproportionate impact of the virus on minority communities. 

– William Cummings 

Rudy Giuliani tests positive for COVID-19

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, has tested positive for COVID-19. Trump shared the news by tweet, writing “Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!”

Giuliani was taken to Georgetown University Medical Center on Sunday where his son Andrew Giuliani said he is “resting, getting great care and feeling well.” 

Since the presidential election, Giuliani, 76, has traveled the country challenging the election results and integrity of the electoral system itself. During much of his travels, Giuliani was seen not wearing a mask and flouting social distancing guidelines.

Along with a cadre of lawyers affiliated with the Trump campaign, Giuliani has held regular news conferences claiming, without evidence, various conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of mass voter fraud.

The former New York City mayor has had an eventful year. Prior to the election, Giuliani was central to a story alleging criminal intent on the part of President-elect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Giuliani was also briefly featured in the sequel to the movie “Borat” in a sordid scene he later called “a hit job.”

– Matthew Brown 

Contributing: Meredith Newman, Delaware News Journal; The Associated Press