Biden’s Covid-19 Task Force Enters the Scene with Apprehension

Posted on February 7, 2021 by

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Newly inaugurated President Joseph R. Biden’s Covid team is nervous about what the Trump team hasn’t told them. 

Biden is inheriting a nation that is grieving over those who perished from the virus. Biden’s team is feeling frustrated and concerned about having a full understanding of the scope of the problems they will confront on Day One.

A sense of nervousness has set in for those who are advising the new President on the pandemic. 

“They don’t know what they don’t know,” said a source close to the Biden Covid-19 team.

The health care system is buckling under the strain of the pandemic. New variants of the virus are popping up around the world. The public is panicked about the prospect of when they can be vaccinated and whether they can trust it when it’s their turn to get it. 

Still, the President’s team feels ready for the fight. 

“We’re not going to hide from the fact that this is going to be a tremendous effort that is going to require the hard work of millions of Americans,” Rep. Bill Foster, an Illinois Democrat on the House coronavirus subcommittee, said. “It’s not going to be some magical solution.” 

Foster has participated in briefings with Biden’s transition team and was describing their posture coming into office.

The President understands how much the success of his presidency will depend on his ability to get the virus under control and is anxious and focused on the pandemic right now, which looms large over these day’s immediately following inauguration.

Chief among the Biden team’s concerns is the vaccine supply and turning around the perceived lackluster distribution effort. However, new strains of the virus are another worry for the incoming team. A source familiar with the Biden effort acknowledged that a major gap the incoming team will have to confront is that there is currently no effective and trustworthy line of communication between states and the federal government. Ramping up the federal involvement in coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution means building up the communications between states to better understand infrastructure and supply challenges (something that is expected to be a focus of Biden’s presidency). States want the federal government to release larger batches of the vaccine but aren’t sure about if there will be enough vaccine available to speed up the pace to be distributed and administered.

Foster said that getting information from the Trump administration on delivery schedules and the production process for vaccines “has been like pulling teeth.” 

“I understand the frustration of the Biden team if they were seeing the same sort of resistance we saw,” Foster said.

Outgoing health officials in the Trump administration insist they have been cooperative and had hundreds of meetings with Biden’s transition team.

“With the pandemic worsening and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Monday. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.’’  

“I am nervous for the new vaccine and am not sure how well it can be trusted,” Paul Molchanow said. “I am anxious to see what things will bring with the new President, especially with all that has happened recently.”