US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday said more Americans “may die” because of President Donald Trump’s failure to allow his administration to cooperate and coordinate its response to the Covid-19 pandemic with members of the incoming team – part of his broader refusal to accept the outcome of the election.
Biden had run on the promise of according top priority to the battle against Covid-19 if elected, and in his first significant step since the election, he set up an advisory team to start planning his administration’s approach after his inauguration on January 20. It has received no cooperation from Trump’s team yet.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden told reporters when asked about the consequences of Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the new administration. “The vaccine is important. But it’s of no use until you’re vaccinated.”
He said it would take a massive effort to get all Americans vaccinated – “a huge, huge, huge undertaking” – and pressed for the need to read into the Trump administration’s plan for development, procurement and distribution of vaccine under Operation Warp Speed, saying, “If we have to wait until January 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind.”
The deadly coronavirus has killed more than 247,000 Americans and infected over 11.2 million. Cases have been surging in recent days with 166,045 new infections reported in the last 24 hours and 995 fatalities, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
“We’re going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier,” Biden said. “That requires sparing no effort to fight Covid, so that we can open our businesses safely, resume our lives and put this pandemic behind us. It’s going to be difficult, but it can be done.”
On Trump’s refusal to allow the transition process, Biden said, “I find this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started.”
Trump has refused to publicly acknowledge that Biden beat him in the election, and has launched a flurry of lawsuits challenging the outcome. Also, he has barred his administration from getting started with the routine transition process, denying the president-elect intelligence briefings, among other things, that he should be getting.
Trump has lately appeared to have tuned out of the pandemic. He last attended a meeting of his coronavirus team five months ago and has barely acknowledged the crisis in his tweets, which are mostly about allegations of election fraud and claims that he won the election.