WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden met Thursday with governors from both parties and criticized President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempt to block the peaceful transition of power, saying it was hindering the flow of information about programs to develop a vitally important coronavirus vaccine.
“Unfortunately, my administration hasn’t been able to get everything we need,” Biden said during a video conference with the National Governors Association’s leadership team, which consists of five Republicans and four Democrats.
His remarks highlighted the stakes of the Trump administration’s refusal to begin a formal transfer of power to Biden’s team. Besides being a pillar of American democracy, it is especially important this year since Biden will be inheriting responsibility for managing the worst public health crisis in a century. The president-elect also has been denied access to other critical information, including security briefings.
Participating from a theater in Wilmington, Delaware, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Biden specifically cited Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s partnership with private pharmaceutical companies to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We haven’t been able to get into Operation Warp Speed, but we will take what we learned today and build it into our plan,” Biden said in remarks after the meeting, which included Republicans Larry Hogan of Maryland, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Kay Ivey of Alabama, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gary Herbert of Utah.
Afterward, Biden spoke about distribution of a vaccine once one is ready, saying, “There has to be a prioritization.”
“That’s why I’d like to know exactly what this administration has in mind in terms of their Operation Warp Speed and how they plan it,” he said of the Trump White House. “And that’s what we talked about with the governors today. They all mentioned the need to focus on the communities that have been left behind.”
Even as he warned of the gravity of the situation, however, Biden reiterated his previous pledges not to institute a nationwide shutdown to curb the virus’s spread, and repeated that more states instituting mask-wearing mandates could save tens of thousands of lives.