Biden warns 'more people may die' if Trump doesn't cooperate with transition

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Nov 17, 2020, 09:08 AM(IST)

Joe Biden and Donald Trump Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Biden was declared winner of the November 3 election but Trump has not conceded, and his administration has so far failed to formally acknowledge the veteran Democrat as the president-elect.

US President-elect Joe Biden has expressed frustration over Donald Trump's refusal to cooperate on the White House transition process, saying "more people may die" of coronavirus without immediate coordination on fighting the surging pandemic.

The Democratic president-elect Monday was taking questions from reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, after consulting jointly with the CEOs of top US companies and labor leaders on Monday. He welcomed further progress in COVID-19 vaccine development, and said curbing the spread of the virus was his first priority.

Biden was declared winner of the November 3 election but Trump has not conceded, and his administration has so far failed to formally acknowledge the veteran Democrat as the president-elect.

That leaves Biden and his team unable to coordinate with government officials on crucial continuity of issues like national security, but also on emergencies like a distribution plan for Covid-19 vaccines to tens of millions of Americans. 

From Trump, Biden will inherit an economy that has suffered millions of job losses during a pandemic that has killed more than 246,000 people in the United States. US COVID-19 cases are surging as Biden prepares to take office on January 20.

To this end, Biden said business and labour leaders had signalled willingness to work together to bolster the pandemic-battered US economy but stressed COVID-19 first must be brought under control.

"We're going into a very dark winter. Things are going to get much tougher before they get easier," Biden said of the pandemic.

Biden again called upon the Trump administration to cooperate with his transition team on containing the surge in cases. "More people may die if we don't coordinate," he said.

"If we have to wait until (inauguration day) January 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind for a month, a month and a half," Biden told reporters.

"And so it's important that it be done, that there be coordination now."

Biden insisted, however, that Trump's refusal to concede was not inhibiting his transition efforts. "I find this more embarrassing for the country than debilitating for my ability to get started," he said.

The United States added one million new cases in less than a week, a dizzying rise to more than 11 million confirmed infections and 246,000 American deaths, a global high.

Trump health advisor Scott Atlas, who has no relevant experience or qualifications in public health or infectious disease, has urged people in Michigan to "rise up" against Covid-19 measures rather than engage in an all-hands-on-deck effort to defeat the pandemic.

Biden said Moderna Inc's announcement that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective based on interim data from a late-stage trial provided fresh hope for beating the coronavirus. Coupled with positive results last week on a rival Pfizer Inc shot, Moderna's news added to optimism that widespread vaccination in the coming months could help tame the pandemic.

Asked whether he personally would be willing to get vaccinated with one of the newly developed shots, Biden told reporters, "I wouldn't hesitate to get the vaccine."

"The only reason people question the vaccine now is because of Donald Trump," added Biden, who turns 78 on Friday.

He stressed that it appeared the vaccines are "on a clear path" towards safe usage. "They appear to be ready for prime time, ready to be used, and if that continues along that road, I would take the vaccine."

Biden urged Americans to limit the number of people at gatherings for next week's Thanksgiving holiday, with social distancing and masks encouraged.

Biden beat Trump by the same 306-232 margin in the state-by-state Electoral College that prompted Trump to proclaim a "landslide" victory in 2016. Biden also won the national popular vote by at least 5.5 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points, with some ballots still being counted.

On other economic matters, Biden said he plans to pursue "a fairer tax structure" with corporations paying their fair share and added that he wanted to see a $15 hourly minimum wage nationwide. Biden said no government contracts will be given to companies that do not make products in the United States.

(with inputs from agencies)

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