HHS Secretary Becerra Seeks Larger Role in COVID Response

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, widely seen as being absent during the coronavirus pandemic, plans to take a larger role this year in dealing with the public health issue.

CNN reports that President Joe Biden, agitated with the recent stories of Becerra’s supposed absence, called Becerra directly on Friday to tell him that he was proud of his work and that “he had Becerra’s back.”

Becerra told CNN in an exclusive interview that he thinks that the government’s COVID-19 guidance has been very confusing and that this needs to be acknowledged in order to be fixed.

“The American people don’t have a lot of time to try to do the science and crunch the numbers,” Becerra said. “They expect the experts to give them the answer.”

Even though the science concerning the virus changes often, Becerra said administration officials must realize that the confusion caused by the guidance has been counterproductive and may have cost lives.

“Here’s a difference between conveying a message that’s accurate and a message that’s clear: How you say it can be the difference between understanding it and not, or following it and not,” he told CNN. 

Becerra is working with allies in the administration on an effort to embolden the secretary’s role, from appearing at White House news briefings to having a substantive meeting with Biden, both of which Becerra has not done yet, CNN said.

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