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Healthcare Groups Concerned for COVID Response Amid Halted Presidential Transition

Analysis  |  By Melanie Blackman  
   November 17, 2020

Leaders of numerous health organizations have voiced their concerns about how the delay in transition will impact the nation's public health response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Vice President Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in the presidential election earlier this month, yet the incumbent’s refusal to concede has stymied a formal transition and could potentially impact the incoming administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Numerous health organizations have voiced their concerns in recent days about how the delay in transition will impact the nation's COVID-19 pandemic response and have called for a transition to help curb the pandemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Monday the U.S. has had over 245,000 deaths due to COVID, and has seen almost 11 million total cases since January 21. COVID cases have increased across the country, and the current 7-day moving average is at 152,977 cases.

In a joint statement released Tuesday morning, the presidents of the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Nurses Association (ANA) urged Trump and his administration to "work with the incoming Biden administration on COVID-19 response."

"As organizations representing the nation’s hospitals and health systems, physicians and registered nurses who remain on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19 and currently caring for tens of thousands of COVID-19 patients, we have been working with your Administration to defeat the pandemic,” the statement read. “Now, as new therapeutics and vaccines are being developed and will begin to be deployed, we urge your Administration to work closely with the Biden transition team to share all critical information related to COVID-19 … As providers of care for all Americans, we 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."

In a statement released on Monday, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) called the formal transition to the Biden-Harris administration an "urgent need” for the country.

"The AAMC urges the Trump administration to enable members of the Biden-Harris transition team to engage formally with current federal officials across the government regarding ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic,” the statement read. “To contain the pandemic and guard against its further spread, it is essential to ensure that the federal government is maximally prepared at all times to levy an unflinching response … We urge the current administration to enable members of the Biden-Harris transition to begin formal participation in the federal government’s COVID-19 planning without further delay."

Similarly, in a statement released Monday by Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, president of the American College of Physicians, the organization called for a "timely presidential transition."

"The American College of Physicians calls on President Trump and General Services Administrator Emily W. Murphy to immediately make available the resources, planning and consultation available under the Presidential Transition Act to President-elect Biden and his transition team. The new administration’s public health experts must be prepared to manage this deadly pandemic, through an effective and seamless transition with President Trump and his administration, with the shared goal of saving lives."

Additionally, Kathleen Sebelius, former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama, echoed the same sentiments in a recent interview with Cheddar.

"Where we will be on the 20th of January could be very, very scary … What is already a daunting task for the vice president, is made considerably harder by the inability of the transition team to have a handoff of knowledge: to get inside agencies, to talk to the coronavirus task force that Donald Trump set up, to look at what the logistics plans are to begin working with governors on a vaccination plan,” Sebelius said. “Having the Trump administration refuse to share information with Joe Biden’s team, not giving them governors’ plans, not telling them what logistics have been set up, is really criminal."

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

Photo credit: NEW YORK, USA, JUN 17, 2020: Silhouette of republican candidate Donald Trump and democratic candidate Joe Biden. 2020 United States presidential election. US vote, Concept photo for November 3, 2020 / Editorial credit: kovop58 / Shutterstock.com


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