Meharry Medical College CEO and President Dr. James Hildreth was appointed to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. Hildreth and 11 other appointees’ responsibilities will include issuing recommendations on the equitable allocation of COVID-19 resources and relief funds. According to the Biden administration, the task force’s purpose is to remedy unspecified health inequities caused by the pandemic and prevent those inequities in the future.
Since the pandemic began, Hildreth played a central role in advising Metro Nashville officials on COVID-19 responses. This included his support for Metro Nashville Public Schools’ (MNPS) to remain closed for in-person learning last fall. Other doctors and health officials had reportedly informed Metro Nashville and MNPS officials that in-person learning last fall wasn’t only safe, it was necessary for students’ health and well-being.
I am excited to be appointed to serve on President Biden's COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. I'm looking forward to working with my task force colleagues on this important issue. https://t.co/T225dnUQMr
— James E.K. Hildreth (@JamesEKHildreth) February 10, 2021
Last October, Hildreth was appointed to the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. That committee recommended the emergency authorization to administer the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
In a statement issued through the college, Hildreth classified COVID-19 as “one of the largest challenges” in American history.
“The virus has had the largest impact on our communities of color, among Black and brown Americans with underlying health conditions,” stated Hildreth. “Without our immediate attention and a national, organized effort to fight this virus, we will be dealing with its impact for years to come.”
Another Tennesseean, Bobby Watts, was also appointed to the task force. Watts is the National Health Care for the Homeless Council CEO.
In addition to their Chairwoman Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, other members appointed were: Maya Alvarez, a California child health equity advocacy organization president and previous Obama administration health official; Andrew Imparato, a California disability rights lawyer; Victor Joseph, the previous Tanana Chiefs Conference Chairman and Health Director; Dr. Joneigh Khaldum, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive and the state’s Chief Deputy Director for Health; Octavio Martinez, the University of Texas at Austin’s mental health foundation executive director and leader in the school’s diversity office; Dr. Tim Putnam, an Indiana community hospital president and CEO; Vincent Toranzo, a Florida high schooler and previous High School Students for Biden National Co-Chair; Mary Turner, a Minnesota ICU nurse and the state’s nurses’ union president; Dr. Homer Venters, a former chief medical officer in New York; and Haeyoung Yoon, the senior policy director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
In the coming months, the task force will receive six federal agency representatives from the 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.
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