Biden Says Delayed Transition Could Affect Coronavirus Response

President-elect says if incoming administration has to wait until Jan. 20 to start planning for vaccine distribution, ‘it puts us behind’

After meeting with labor and business leaders Monday, President-elect Joe Biden said that more people could die from Covid-19 if his incoming administration has to wait until Jan. 20 to plan for vaccine distribution. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

President-elect Joe Biden warned Monday that delays to his presidential transition could hinder the federal government response to the coronavirus pandemic as he sought to coordinate with business and labor leaders ahead of his new administration.

Mr. Biden said he was encouraged by a meeting he had with business leaders, including the heads of General Motors Co. and Microsoft Corp. , along with labor leaders such as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. But he told reporters that if his team is forced to wait by the Trump administration until Jan. 20 to begin planning the distribution of vaccines for the virus, “it puts us behind over a month and a half.”

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Mr. Biden said in response to a question about the biggest threat to his transition.

Mr. Biden’s team has been pressing the General Services Administration to issue a designation that would let his advisers move forward with preparations to form a new administration in January. The GSA hasn’t yet officially acknowledged Mr. Biden’s electoral victory over President Trump, hurting the former vice president’s ability to prepare for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine and meet with Health and Human Services officials over plans to address Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The GSA designation is at the heart of a postelection debate over whether Mr. Trump should stop refusing to concede the presidential election. Mr. Biden secured the electoral votes he needed to become the next president, according to the Associated Press and other major news organizations, but hasn’t received the GSA’s nod.

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