SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Health officials say shutting out the incoming President-Elect Joe Biden-Kamala Harris administration on a smooth transition of the White House could endanger public health at a critical time.
The U.S. surpassed 11 million cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with the most recent million coming in less than a week. As the Trump administration stonewalls the transition process, cases are rising. Hospitalizations across the country are at a record high of more than 69,000.
An influential COVID-19 model projects the U.S. death toll may reach 439,000 by March 1st.
“The biggest thing at risk in the rocky transition in terms of COVID is indifference…the current administration is winding down, they never were excited about having a national strategy anyway,” said UCSF Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. “They gave the power to the states, which is completely wrong for a virus that doesn’t know any borders.”
Biden’s coronavirus advisory board has not yet seen the Trump administration’s COVID-19 data or plans. Public health experts say this could risk a delay in vaccine distribution and a national strategy for testing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed that now isn’t the time for Americans to let their guards down.
“We’ve got to get the vaccine, it’s got to be deployed and we can’t abandon fundamental health measures,” he told CNN on Sunday.
Meanwhile, there is renewed hope for a fresh round of COVID-19 relief, after Biden secured enough electoral votes to become president.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) put pressure on Republicans to accept the outcome of the election, and focus on a bill to deliver aid to millions of Americans left desperate by the pandemic.
“The Republicans should start spending all their time saying the election wasn’t legitimate. We know it’s legitimate. Republicans, Joe Biden won. Donald Trump lost. Now work with us to get a COVID bill done. Cause that’s the agenda that’s on the, that’s the item. That’s on the agenda that the American people want and want badly,” he said.