Biden’s new boss turned epidemic from ‘calamity to triumph’

Defending himself against the increasingly indefensible handling of the coronavirus by the federal government, President Donald Trump has consistently said that “no one” could have predicted or prepared for a deadly pandemic that could strike at any time.

But the man now tasked with leading President-elect Joe Biden’s new administration saw it coming – and according to public health officials, he may be the only person with the first-hand experience to reverse it. during an unprecedented public health emergency.

“Ron Klain did something that was unprecedented in modern American history, in stark contrast to what President Trump did with COVID,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National Law and Global Health at Georgetown University, at The Daily Beast. . “Klain turned a calamity into a triumph.”

Klain, newly announced as Biden’s chief of staff in the White House, is neither a doctor nor an infectious disease expert. But his actions as the leader of the US response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 are credited by luminaries in the field for saving hundreds of thousands of lives – and are viewed by hopeful doctors and public health experts as a potential plan to reverse the disaster that was the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19.

“The principles are: you watch the scientists, you follow the recommendations, you have a pandemic plan and you follow it,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology and global health at the University of Michigan and former advisor. at the World Health Organization. “These are the principles he followed, and this is what we need to move forward.”

With the title of Ebola Response Coordinator at the White House – which meme based mockery from those who doubted a non-doctor could lead the government’s response – Klain was the architect of a new contact tracing program that tracked all travelers entering the United States from West Africa, gave them cell phones to maintain contact, and tested their temperatures for three weeks after entering the United States.

Klain also ordered the government to provide massive training exercises to major medical centers across the country to ensure that should an Ebola case arise, these hospitals would have the knowledge to provide care without accidentally spreading the pathogen. highly contagious in the process. Before the program, only three US medical centers were trained and prepared to treat Ebola patients. In three months, nearly 50 people had been trained to do so.

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