WASHINGTON – Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento), co-chair of the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging & Families (TFAF), on Dec. 1 led a letter to Drs. David Kessler, Vivek Murthy, and Marcella Nunez-Smith, co-chairs of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, requesting that a geriatrician or expert in aging services be appointed to the board to specifically address the impact of COVID-19 on older Americans.
Recently, the transition began appointing a leading team of public health experts to the board that will advise President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and the incoming administration’s COVID-19 staff on managing the pandemic. The diverse range of highly qualified physicians, scientists, and public health experts on the panel are experienced and trusted leaders who are well-equipped to take on the important task of leading our country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
However, recognizing that older adults continue to bear the disproportionate burden of severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, Matsui is urging the Biden-Harris Transition to prioritize at-risk older adults, their families, and their caregivers in a robust federal response.
According to Matsui, appointing a geriatrician or expert in aging services to the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board will give voice to the unique needs of older Americans as critical next steps are taken to get the virus under control, and safely and equitably distribute tests, therapies and vaccines.
Matsui led the letter alongside fellow TFAF Co-Chairs Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Conor Lamb (D-Penn.) as well as Vice Chairs Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).
“I am very grateful that Congresswoman Matsui and the House Democratic Caucus Task Force on Aging & Families are asking the Biden-Harris Transition to add a geriatrician to the COVID-19 Advisory Board,” said Darrick Lam, president and CEO, ACC Senior Services. “Our nation needs someone who has the experience to work with older adults whose risks for COVID-19 increases.
“As indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.”