WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House has tapped Dr. Tom Inglesby, the former director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, to lead the government’s COVID-19 testing initiative, press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.
The appointment, confirmed by Psaki in a Twitter post, comes as the federal government seeks to ramp up testing amid the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
“Dr. Inglesby is one of the world’s leading infectious disease experts and is internationally recognized in the fields of public health preparedness, pandemic and emerging infectious disease, and prevention of and response to biological threats,” a White House official told Reuters.
The United States reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, shattering the global record for daily cases in any one country. Omicron is now estimated to account for 98.3% of total new cases circulating in the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
Critics have accused President Joe Biden of not focusing enough on testing in the fight to control surging Omicron cases and hospitalizations, amid growing reports of acute shortages of test kits around the country.
The White House and top health officials have defended the response, including announcing this month that 500 million rapid tests would be available free to all Americans in January.