The incoming Biden administration needs information on the COVID-19 pandemic, including the “all-important issue of vaccine distribution,” from federal agencies in order to prepare to take office, President-elect Joe Biden told reporters on Thursday.
Biden added that the transition team “hadn’t ruled out” legal action against General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, who is responsible for recognizing Biden’s victory and allowing federal agencies to begin sharing information with his team.
In the speech, the president-elect put emphasis on five points that he says are key to his plan to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden also highlighted the need for cooperation from the GOP in bringing the spread of the virus to an end, and said that a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors from the National Association of Governors before the speech had gone well.
Biden attempted to draw a line between institutional GOP governors and the Trump administration, which has not cooperated with his transition and denied it access to key information around vaccine distribution.
“We don’t have access to all the information that we need to get from all the various agencies,” Biden said, adding that information from the states was helping his transition get around the Trump administration’s roadblock. “We haven’t been able to get into Operation Warp Speed, but we will take what we’ve learned today and build it into our plan.”
Operation Warp Speed is the Trump administration’s plan to accelerate production of a COVID-19 vaccine.
On a call with reporters on Wednesday, Operation Warp Speed official Gen. Gustave Perna said that that the effort would have enough doses by the end of December of two vaccines shown to be effective to inoculate 20 million Americans.
Biden re-emphasized his priorities as discussed with the governors, which focus on fiscal support to states and small businesses, vaccine distribution, increasing national guard and FEMA funding, implementing a national mask mandate, expanding testing, and funding infrastructure investments.
Biden met with ten governors before the speech, half of whom were Democrats, and half of whom were Republicans. The speech — and meeting — comes as President Trump hamfistedly tries to overturn the results of the election and overthrow Biden’s administration before it takes office.
The president-elect stuck fast to his message of bipartisanship, saying that “we agreed that we’ll continue to work and meet with the governors on a regular basis, continue to seek their input, and that our COVID teams will follow up and coordinate on the issues coming out of that call.”
“The bottom line: we can do this,” Biden said. “There’s nothing beyond our capacity, but we have to come together as a country.”