"Of course it would be better" if public health officials could begin working with Joe Biden’s transition team right now, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
President Donald Trump’s administration has been stonewalling the transfer of power since Biden’s victory, with its General Services Administration — responsible for coordinating presidential transitions according to the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 — declining to recognize Biden as president-elect and thus blocking him from contacting agencies and accessing resources within the federal government. Trump, who has yet to concede the election, continues to maintain that it was "rigged."
Democrats and health experts have raised concerns the delay could cripple the U.S.’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic, delaying the roll-out of a vaccine and preventing the transition from deploying public health officials, accessing non-public data and otherwise initiating its takeover of the effort.
"I’ve been through multiple transitions now, having served six presidents for 36 years," Fauci told Jake Tapper on CNN’s "State of the Union. "It’s very clear that that transition process that we go through … is really important in a smooth handing-over of the information."
"it’s almost like passing a baton in a race," he went on. "You don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody. You want to just essentially keep going — and that is what transition is, so it certainly would make things [go] more smoothly if we could do that."
Asked if it would better for public health if his team were able to work with Biden’s transition team right now, Fauci replied: "That is obvious. Of course it would be better if we could start working with them."
The coronavirus has spiked throughout America in recent weeks, repeatedly setting daily records. There are now almost 11 million diagnosed cases in the United States and more than 245,000 Americans have died; both figures are by far the highest in the world.
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, now co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus taskforce, indicated Sunday that the transition team has yet to see the Trump administration’s Covid-19 data or plans.
"There are thousands and thousands of career civil servants and political appointees who have been working very hard on this pandemic for many months now," Murthy told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday.“ "They have plans that are in process. They have data they have collected that the public doesn’t always have access to — and to be able to see that data, see those plans, is what’s going to help us put together the best possible product in the end."
"So those dialogues are critical," he went on. "We are going to need that as soon as possible to make this all work well."
The last time Trump attended a meeting of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce was "several months ago," Fauci said Sunday. Speaking on ABC’s "This Week," Trump administration coronavirus testing czar Brett Giroir confirmed that Trump has not attended a meeting in at least five months.