November 19, 2020 – Amid surging COVID-19 cases nationwide, nearly 200 former public health officials, public health and medical school deans, and public health and medical experts and researchers are sounding the alarm today in a letter to General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy. The letter warns that further delays in the presidential transition process will risk the lives of many more Americans. Murphy’s refusal to ascertain Joe Biden as President-elect has hindered the presidential transition team from liaising with key health officials in the Trump Administration and prevents the incoming administration from developing a robust, coordinated response to the pandemic. You can view the letter and the signatorieshere.
Notable signatories available for interview include Georges Benjamin (Executive Director of the American Public Health Association), Leana Wen (Former Health Commissioner of Baltimore), Perry Halkitis (Dean and Professor of Biostatistics and Urban-Global Public Health at the School of Public Health at Rutgers University), and Sten Vermund (Dean, Yale School of Public Health).
“A seamless transition is necessary to ensure that the incoming administration is prepared to confront the COVID-19 pandemic from day one,” said Dr. Peter G. Lurie, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Administrator Murphy must fulfill this responsibility immediately, as every extra day of delay can only add to the death toll.”
Coordination between administrations is critical to the Biden team’s ability to prepare plans for vaccine distribution and development, fully understand the current capacity for testing and contact tracing, develop specific mitigation strategies for businesses and schools, assess the national production capacity and supply chains for essential medications and protective equipment, gauge hospital bed and intensive care unit capacity, and much more.
“Refusing to ascertain Biden as President-elect means the transition team must plan for a crisis response without access to essential information about vaccine development, the nation’s supply chains for protective equipment and testing supplies, and coordination with federal, state, and local authorities,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “The costs are clear: delays mean more Americans will suffer and die.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School, Protect Democracy, and Public Citizen are responsible for organizing this letter.