Former White House COVID-19 response coordinator in line for Chief of Staff role

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COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients answers questions during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 22 (UPI) — The White House cabinet is expected to experience a shake up soon with Chief of Staff Ron Klain stepping down and former White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients stepping up.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Zients is in line to be elevated to the chief of staff role. This comes after word of Klain resigning began to circulate over the weekend, as reported by The New York Times.

Zients was director of the National Economic Council and an assistant on economic policy to President Barack Obama. He was part of Biden’s transition team before picking up the role as coronavirus response coordinator.

According to CNN, the White House underwent an internal search to find a replacement for Klain. The chief of staff preferred Zients as the next in line after he played a critical role in filling staffing positions after the midterm elections.

As chief of staff, Zients would oversee the executive branch and act as one of the closest advisers to the president.

Klain has served as chief of staff for more than two years. Though unnamed sources have suggested his resignation will come following Biden’s State of the Union address on Feb. 7, no official word on the resignation has been announced.

In March, Zients stepped away from his position as the White House’s COVID-19 response director for a private sector position. Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, took Zients’ place on the COVID-19 response team.

Among Zients’ duties as response director was coordinating the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, which was perhaps the biggest charge in the early days of the Biden presidency.

To date, about 69% of people in the United States who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine have completed their first cycle of vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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