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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There's a hot new executive position at big companies: chief medical officer.

Why it matters: The coronavirus exposed a slew of vulnerabilities within our society, and one of them was the inability of large corporations to protect workers. Now, many firms are putting physicians in their C-suites to address some of those problems.

  • "In the past, there was a focus on workplace safety, and, naturally, there wasn’t as large of a focus on public health and infectious disease," says Daniel Castillo, chief medical officer at Matrix Medical Network, who has been consulting with food industry giant Tyson Foods on its coronavirus response.
  • "What the coronavirus has done is really open that up as an area that organizations need to think about."

Driving the news:

  • Tyson — which faces lawsuits from employees who say they were sickened at its plants — is currently looking for an in-house CMO.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises has added a CMO amid the pandemic, per the Wall Street Journal.
  • Australian retail behemoth Woolworths Group recently brought in a medical executive as well.

Even companies that aren't putting doctors in executive positions have partnered with health care companies or hired medical consultants to get through the crisis, says Brian Kropp, head of Gartner's human resources practice.

The bottom line: "It requires a lot of effort for us to keep our employees safe," says Scott Brooks, who leads COVOD testing strategy at Tyson. "COVID isn’t going away anytime soon, and then we're thinking, 'What's the next COVID?'"

Go deeper

Dec 3, 2020 - Health

Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take coronavirus vaccine in public

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 2017. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Barack Obama said during an interview on SiriusXM airing Thursday he'll take the COVID-19 vaccine and "may end up taking it on TV." Representatives for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton told CNN they'd also be willing to be inoculated in public.

Why it matters: The former presidents are hoping to instill confidence in the vaccines once authorized for use in the U.S. NIAID director Anthony Fauci has said the U.S. could have herd immunity by the end of next summer or fall if enough people get vaccinated.

Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.

Dec 3, 2020 - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.