Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said on Sunday that the Trump administration should start working with President-elect Joe Biden’s team on the coronavirus response, as the White House has so far declined to begin the official transition of power.
“It’s almost like passing a baton in a race,” Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “You don’t want to stop, and then give it to somebody, you want to just essentially keep going.”
Fauci, who has served six presidents over 36 years, said that the transition period is crucial. Working with the incoming Biden-Harris administration would make the process run more smoothly, he said.
When asked if public health officials would benefit from working with the Biden transition team, Fauci said, “Of course it would be better if we can start working with them.”
Fauci also told CNN that Trump has not attended a meeting of the White House coronavirus taskforce in months. CNBC has reached out to the White House for comment.
The Biden-Harris campaign has released a step-by-step plan for combatting Covid-19, and announced a Covid-19 advisory board co-chaired by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine, on Monday.
Murthy said that having access to plans and data could help the team further their coronavirus efforts, in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Those dialogues are critical,” Murthy said. “There, you want to get them started as soon as possible.”
Ron Klain, chief of staff for president-elect Biden, said on Sunday that the delayed transition could impact the timing of vaccine implementation, in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Pending approval, it’s possible that vaccine distribution could begin as early as December and January, he said.
“Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we’re going to have on January 20th,” Klain told NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday.
President Trump acknowledged President-elect Biden won the election in a Twitter post Sunday, but is still refusing to concede after falsely claiming again that the race was “rigged.” The Trump administration still has not formally accepted Biden’s victory, which is delaying the president-elect’s access to key government resources and intelligence information.
The head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, has to sign paperwork for the transition process to get under way. The GSA did not return CNBC’s request for comment, and a Biden transition official told NBC News that the president-elect’s team has not received any updates after Trump’s Twitter post Sunday morning.
Coronavirus outbreaks are surging across the U.S. as the nation enters what health experts forecast will be the worst period of the pandemic because viral transmission typically peaks during the winter months. The U.S. reported a daily average of more than 145,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a 33% increase over the week prior, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
More than 245,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus since the pandemic began, and more than 10.9 million people have been infected.