Biden keeps focus on COVID-19, holds virtual roundtable with frontline workers

Presidential Transition

WILMINGTON, Del. (NewsNation Now) — Without official pandemic and national security briefings, President-elect Joe Biden is turning to frontline health care workers Wednesday as his transition teams makes plans to combat COVID-19.

From Wilmington, Delaware, Biden met with health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis during a virtual roundtable Wednesday.

President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the Nov. 3 election has blocked Biden’s access to formal intelligence briefings and other transitional resources. Biden topped the 270 electoral vote threshold to clinch the presidency on Nov. 7, when he won Pennsylvania, according to The Associated Press.

Biden and his senior advisers have warned that delays to launching the formal presidential transition process could jeopardize efforts to contain increasing COVID-19 cases and vaccine distribution planning in a country where more than 248,000 people have died from the pandemic.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday on Fox News that the Trump administration is “doing everything statutorily required” for a transition. She blamed the General Services Administration, which has the power to launch the transitional process, for stalling.

The head of the GSA, Emily Murphy, must certify Biden as the winner in order to free up money for the transition and clear the way for his team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies.

Biden acknowledged that he has “not been receiving briefings that would ordinarily come by now” on Tuesday, when he met virtually with national security experts. None of the experts who Biden spoke with were currently affiliated with the U.S. government.

During the roundtable on Wednesday, Biden promised to prioritize coronavirus funding for state and local governments.

States are facing massive financial shortfalls as a result of lost tax revenue related to the pandemic that may threaten local health care systems, law enforcement and education.

Biden said he’s hopeful that Republicans in Congress will be willing to send more money to state and local governments after Trump leaves office.

“Hopefully, when he’s gone, they’ll be more willing to do what they know should be done, has to be done, in order to save the communities they live in,” Biden said.

Biden’s team also plans to meet directly with pharmaceutical companies this week to determine how best to distribute at least two promising vaccines.

Pfizer on Wednesday announced that final trial analysis shows its vaccine is 95% effective, and the company plans to apply for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within the coming days.

On Monday, Moderna reported that early data suggests a similar efficacy rate for its vaccine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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