Bay Area COVID-19 experts offer advice for President-elect Joe Biden's team

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For many, experts in the new administration represent a fresh start and an opportunity to make needed changes in the battle against COVID-19. To gauge what they're thinking, ABC7 asked a single question: What would you like to see the Joe Biden administration do first?

We directed that question to four of the top medical and infectious disease experts in the Bay Area. Dr. Yvonne Maldonado of Stanford and doctors George Rutherford, M.D., Bob Wachter, M.D. and Monica Gandhi, M.D. of UCSF.

Dr. Gandhi recently completed an influential study that confirmed the value of wearing a face mask to limit exposure to COVID-19


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"You know, I think my first one or two things would be to consider a national mask mandate, or really work hard on getting masking out of politics and into science. I think it's an incredibly important pillar of pandemic control," she said.

UCSF colleague Dr. George Rutherford agreed and added to the wish list.

"And the other two things that would be at the top of my list would be expanded access to testing, basically testing on demand with the right kinds of tests. And the other is how are we going to distribute the vaccine," said Rutherford.

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To streamline that response Stanford's Dr. Maldonado argued the new administration should have tighter coordination between federal agencies and individual states.

"Well the first thing I would do is create a national strategy that is uniform, not mandatory but highly recommended and supported for all the states to follow," she said, adding also the integration of the CDC, NIH and FDA to pull together a national response.

Finally, Dr. Wachter of UCSF believes new communication is also critical to winning back public support needed for wide spread vaccine distribution and other critical measures.

"We have a lot of work to do to rebuild the trust of the American public and rebuild our institutions so people believe that the government's doing the right thing and is paying attention to the science and the evidence and being honest with all of us about what we need to do," he said.

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An aggressive to-do list, for a new administration. Both Stanford and UCSF are currently running COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Three members of UCSF have just been appointed to president-elect Biden's advisory team.

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