Health Experts Demand GSA Chief Stop Holding Up Biden’s Transition As COVID Cases Surge

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy arrives to testify in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on March 13, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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November 19, 2020 2:30 p.m.
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Nearly 200 public health experts joined forces on Thursday to demand that General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy officially green-light President-elect Joe Biden’s formal transition amid surging COVID-19 cases nationwide.

In a letter issued Thursday to Murphy, former government officials, advocates, medical school deans and other health experts urged the GSA chief to sign an ascertainment that would permit Biden’s transition team to contact federal agencies so that the incoming administration can begin planning its response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 250,000 Americans thus far.

Murphy’s refusal to sign an ascertainment comes amid President Trump’s refusal to concede as he wages long-shot legal battles contesting the legitimacy of Biden’s legitimate victory.

“In light of the public health crisis facing the nation, it is imperative that you ascertain Joe Biden as President-elect immediately under the Presidential Transition Act,” the group of health experts wrote. “Doing so will enable the incoming Biden team to liaise with key health officials in the Trump Administration and prepare a robust, coordinated response to the pandemic.”

The health experts said that a smooth transition is essential in preparing the incoming Biden administration for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which include distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, implementing mitigation strategies for businesses and schools, and data on hospital capacities and PPE.

The health experts stressed that surging COVID-19 cases nationwide will only worsen if Biden’s formal transition continues being stonewalled.

“With the pandemic worsening nationwide and only two months until the transition of power, every day the transition is delayed is a day the country cannot afford. Ensuring a rapid and smooth transition will save American lives,” the health experts said. “We urge the GSA to make an ascertainment immediately and permit the formal transition process to begin.”

Biden warned on Wednesday that the delay of his formal transition prevents his transition team from contacting current administration officials or begin its plans to address the COVID-19 crisis. The President-elect concluded that without the Trump administration’s assistance in providing COVID-19 data to his team soon, the incoming administration will be “behind by weeks or months” on its distribution of vaccines.

The President-elect’s remarks double down on recent warnings by members of his team about how the Trump administration’s stonewalling is already impacting the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, stressed the importance of a smooth transition process amid surging COVID-19 cases nationwide during an interview on CNN Sunday.

When asked whether it’d a good idea for public health experts to be able to work with Biden’s transition team right now in terms of what is best for the public’s health, Fauci told CNN “of course.”

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
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