By Jairo Mejia
New York, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- The massive increase in coronavirus cases in the United States is increasing the pressure on President Donald Trump to admit his election defeat and begin a transition process that allows President-elect Joe Biden to coordinate with the outgoing administration on a plan for dealing with the pandemic.
The Covid-19 spike continues to set new records for daily infections and, in turn, is starting to put extreme pressure on hospitals everywhere in the country.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and one of the leading members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Tuesday in an interview published by The New York Times that coordinating the transition is important, especially in such a critical situation as the Covid-19 pandemic.
One million Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week alone.
Fauci said that he’d been through five presidential transitions and they are extremely important in ensuring continuity without any friction. He suggested the country needs a transition to a government team that is willing to do what medical experts are recommending and doing to stem the virus.
Biden – who still has not received the approval for his team to work closely with the federal agencies he will have to supervise starting upon his inauguration on Jan. 20 – met on Tuesday with outside experts on defense, diplomacy and intelligence matters in an attempt to move forward with his agenda despite Trump’s resistance to acknowledging his election loss or facilitating the transition of power.
The president-elect on Monday strongly criticized Trump for not starting the transition as soon as possible and warned that “more people may die” if the outgoing and incoming teams cannot coordinate, a stance that was echoed on Tuesday by Fauci, although he did not get into infection or death numbers.
“We’ve got to get public health issues out of the realm of political divisiveness – this is not a political issue,” Fauci said in his interview. “We’ve got to do everything we possibly can to pull together as a nation.”
Trump, who continues to air unfounded accusations of electoral fraud and whose lawsuits in the key state of Pennsylvania continue to fail in court because of lack of evidence, is ignoring the crisis presented by a pandemic out of control across most of the country, which for the past week has been adding some 150,000 new Covid-19 cases each day and with coronavirus hospitalizations setting a new record on Tuesday at 73,000.
On Tuesday, Trump had no working agenda scheduled and on Monday he only referred to the pandemic in a tweet to boast about the announcement by the Moderna pharmaceutical company that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate had shown very high effectiveness at preventing the disease in early trials, making it the second vaccine candidate – after the one being developed by Pfizer – to be on the fast track for urgent approval for use by US regulators.
“Another Vaccine just announced. This time by Moderna, 95% effective. For those great ‘historians’, please remember that these great discoveries, which will end the China Plague, all took place on my watch!” Trump tweeted on Monday.
The outgoing president also criticized Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, after he ordered a curfew starting at 10 pm due to the increase in cases there.
On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence held a meeting with governors to coordinate a response to the pandemic with an eye toward the vacation period that starts next week with Thanksgiving Day, but Fauci on Tuesday criticized the “disjointed” strategy that is leaving states to deal with the virus alone without any large overarching or coordinating role by the federal government.
The coronavirus crisis seems to be the only thing that could force the hand of the White House to facilitate the transition by ordering Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, to provide Biden’s team with the authorization it needs to be in touch with federal agencies, something that she has resisted so far.
The Electoral College is scheduled to meet on Dec. 14 to cast its votes for the presidential candidate who won in each state and at that point Murphy could find herself forced to provide access to Biden’s team, given that he has unquestionably accumulated 306 electoral votes, above the 270 required to be elected president.
Biden, who has already announced his picks for key positions in his administration, although no cabinet announcements have yet been made, is expressing his impatience at Trump’s intransigence in facilitating the transition, especially as regards the coronavirus and the need for his team to be up to date on classified and intelligence matters.
Biden said on Tuesday that, so far, he has spoken with about 13 world leaders and held meetings with experts to prepare his administration’s agenda.
He said he was not being critical but rather simply stating the obvious, that he still cannot receive intelligence reports to which, in a “normal” situation, he, as president-elect, would have already been getting access. He said that there is no greater responsibility than protecting the American people.