WASHINGTON — Top officials from organizations representing American hospitals, doctors and nurses are calling on President Donald Trump to share critical Covid-19 data with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team “as soon as possible” to “save countless lives.”
In a letter released Tuesday, the CEOs of the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association urged the Trump administration to “work closely with the Biden transition team to share all critical information related to Covid-19.”
“Real-time data and information on the supply of therapeutics, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity and workforce availability to plan for further deployment of the nation’s assets needs to be shared to save countless lives,” they wrote in the letter. “All information about the capacity of the Strategic National Stockpile, the assets from Operation Warp Speed, and plans for dissemination of therapeutics and vaccines needs to be shared as quickly as possible to ensure that there is continuity in strategic planning so that there is no lapse in our ability to care for patients.”
The letter cited their perspective as “providers of care for all Americans” who “see the suffering that is occurring in our communities due to COVID-19. We see families who have lost both parents from COVID-19; we see children suffering from long-term effects due to a COVID-19 infection; and we see minority populations disproportionately suffering from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is from this front line human perspective that we urge you to share critical data and information as soon as possible.”
The missive came one day after Biden told reporters “more people may die” if the Trump administration continues to obstruct the smooth transfer of power.
Biden noted that getting a coronavirus vaccine to more than 300 million Americans is a “huge, huge, huge undertaking” that would be further complicated by a delay in the presidential transition.
“If we have to wait until Jan. 20 to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and a half. And so, it’s important that it be done, that there be coordination now. Now or as rapidly as we can get that done,” Biden said.
Trump’s stonewalling of the transition is affecting the incoming team in other ways, as well. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are set to receive a national security briefing Tuesday, though it won’t be done by government officials because the Trump administration still hasn’t formally approved the transition.
Biden and Harris will meet instead with diplomatic, intelligence and defense experts, a Biden transition team official told NBC News. No government officials will participate in the briefing, a source familiar with the matter said.
The briefing is part of the incoming administration’s effort to pressure the General Services Administration to ascertain the election so that Biden can start receiving intelligence briefings. The GSA has so far refused to sign off on a transition as Trump has refused to concede the election.
In other transition news:
- Biden announced several key senior West and East Wing staff appointments, including longtime aide Steve Ricchetti as counselor to the president, and former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon as Jill Biden’s chief of staff.
- Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who was formally announced as a senior adviser to the president-elect and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, told reporters his new role “will allow me to offer advice to the president when he wants” and “maybe sometimes when he doesn’t want it.”
- Two world leaders who have had close relationships with Trump spoke with Biden and congratulated him on winning the election. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Biden had a “warm conversation” and “agreed to meet in the near future,” a representative of Netanyahu’s office said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hosted a celebration for Trump in February, tweeted that he’d also spoken with Biden. Modi again offered congratulations to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who is of South Asian American descent, and said her “success is a matter of great pride and inspiration for members of the vibrant Indian American community.”
- Biden has privately told advisers that he doesn’t want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of Trump, sources have told NBC News.
- A hearing is expected Tuesday on the Trump campaign’s federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the vote results, The Associated Press reported.
- AP reports that the head of the GSA consulted with Dave Barram, who held her job during the 2000 presidential election, about the ascertainment process to kick-start the transition.
The GSA’s holdup means Biden can’t receive any official briefings on the pandemic from government officials.
Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Monday that the formal transition to the incoming Biden administration will be key to the quick distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, and made the point again at The New York Times’ Dealbook Online Summit on Tuesday.
“Transitions are extremely important to the smooth continuity of whatever you’re doing,” Fauci said, adding, “If you want to have good continuity, which will mean maximal attack on infections, hospitalizations, death, you want to have the continuity.”
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans on Monday continued to acknowledge the importance of the transition period.
“It’s absolutely imperative for public health that all of the planning that’s gone on — for which the current administration deserves credit — be shared with the new administration,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who won a competitive re-election race earlier this month, said.
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., told reporters on Capitol Hill, “It’s reasonable for the vice president to be given security briefings. I don’t see any harm at all, and actually a lot of help.”
Julie Tsirkin, Garrett Haake, Mike Memoli, Amanda Golden, Marianna Sotomayor, Nicole Via y Rada and Jacob Gardenswartz contributed.