President-elect Joe Biden said Monday that the biggest threat posed by President Donald Trump’s refusal to cooperate with Biden’s transition team is that “more people may die” if he can’t access the outgoing administration’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans.
When Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivered remarks on the economy in Wilmington, Delaware, an NBC reporter asked Biden what he saw as the biggest threat to his transition, “given President Trump’s unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power.”
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden answered. “As my chief of staff, Ron Klain, would say … a vaccine is important. It’s of little use until you’re vaccinated. So how do we get the vaccine, how do we get over 300 million Americans vaccinated? What’s the game plan?”
Trump has refused to concede the election, despite all major media networks projecting Biden, who is far ahead in both the popular and electoral votes, as the winner. Trump’s campaign continues to allege voter fraud and ballot-counting irregularities, but lacks the evidence to prove it.
The Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration has refused to acknowledge Biden as the president-elect, obstructing his team’s access to necessary funds, offices and personnel that would facilitate a smooth transfer of power.
Part of that transition includes sharing vital information from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s program that facilitates and accelerates the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
“It’s a huge, huge, huge undertaking to get it done, prioritize those greatest in need, and work our way through it ― and also cooperate with the World Health Organization and the rest of the world in dealing with this,” Biden said.
“If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half,” he explained. “So it’s important that it be done, that there be coordination ― now, or as rapidly as we can get that done.”
In his remarks on Monday, the president-elect also implored Americans to continue wearing face masks as the nation heads into the winter with COVID-19 cases surging.
“It’s about patriotism,” Biden said of wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “It’s about being patriotic. It’s about saving lives, for real; it’s not a hyperbole.”
Meanwhile, Trump and many Republican leaders claim that mask mandates take away Americans’ freedoms and don’t make a difference in curbing the virus’ spread. Public health experts have long said that wearing a mask can help stop the spread of the virus and save lives.
“I strongly urge you to do it,” Biden said. “There’s nothing macho about not wearing a mask.”