It’s an odd moment in the pandemic: there’s promising news about vaccines and home testing … and a nationwide surge in cases that are only expected to get worse in the coming weeks. Adam Cancryn and Dan Diamond from POLITICO break up the state of the Covid crisis and how the holidays continue right around the corner. Also, the country’s largest public school system excludes personal learning. And Republicans are denouncing Trump’s recent layoff.
“The general attitude is that every option is on the table, but for now we’re really trying to focus on the public pressure phase and show the costs of not recognizing Biden as the winner” – the term for them Recognition of Biden as a winner – said another Democrat who participated in discussions.
But getting Republicans to show up was a shame.
So far, only half a dozen Republican Senators have supported Biden’s position that the transition should officially begin or publicly acknowledge his victory: Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), Marco Rubio (Florida), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Jim Risch (Idaho).
“I don’t think it would do any harm if the transition helped,” Rubio said last week. “I don’t think it admits anything,” referring to Trump’s legal challenges in the election.
Biden helpers try to turn the problem into a reality. If he and his staff are not updated soon, it could leave the nation vulnerable to foreign threats, it is said. The massive plan to distribute Covid-19 vaccines could be postponed due to months of lack of coordination between Trump’s government and the new government.
Trump’s coronavirus task force is currently preparing plans for vaccine distribution – a process that is lawfully disqualifying Biden’s team – where it will almost certainly be up to the president-elect to oversee the actual process. Another adviser referred to remarks by Anthony Fauci, the country’s foremost infectious disease expert, describing the transition as a public health threat.
Several Biden aides and advisors predicted the surge in coronavirus cases, and concerns over the delay of a vaccine will cause Republicans to change their minds. However, Republicans are also under pressure to question the validity of Biden’s White House claim and the confirmation of the election results in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan. Trump is also tracking a recount in Georgia and a partial recount in Wisconsin.
Biden himself and his transition team have repeatedly pointed out the risks of not being given access to government data on the pandemic. Biden warned Monday that “more people could die” if the transition doesn’t proceed.
In a briefing call to Covid-19 on Tuesday, Biden’s medical team of experts said their ability to design vaccine distribution plans was compromised by lack of access to official government data on coronavirus cases, number of hospital beds and supplies, including personal ones Protective equipment, is impaired.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said his department will not work with Biden’s team until the GSA makes a decision.
“We couldn’t get access to the things we need to know about – the depth of stocks, we know there isn’t much at all,” Biden told a virtual meeting of health workers on Wednesday. He said his health advisors were still in the dark about Trump’s plans to distribute the vaccine.
To further highlight the problem, Biden met with outsiders this week National security experts in Wilmington, Delaware to discuss their experiences in fighting the coronavirus. And while Harris, in her capacity as Senator, received a briefing with classified intelligence, Biden stated that he is not entitled to such secret briefings until the GSA acts.
The GSA’s refusal to recognize Biden’s election victory also blocks access to millions of dollars in government resources that would cover a range of costs such as personnel, travel, experts and consultants. This would also allow the Biden team to freely contact government officials, including Fauci.
While there are legal ways to enforce the GSA’s hand, the Biden team is avoiding it for now. A court battle could backfire and cause even longer delays, they say.
But the Democrats are losing patience, especially with Murphy, whom they accuse of bidding Trump while in office. Murphy, although a GSA spokeswoman, said she will continue to comply with all legal requirements and adhere to previous precedents.
“All I’ve seen in relation to Administrator Murphy’s behavior is that she only welcomes the one source of strength,” Connolly said. “And that’s Donald J. Trump.”