Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the Senate on the federal response to the pandemic
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious disease expert, said Sunday that the Trump administration should work with President-elect Joe Biden's team on the coronavirus response, as the White House has so far refused to accept the official change in power begin.
"It's almost like handing over a baton in a race," Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union. "You don't want to stop and then give it to someone, you just essentially want to move on."
Fauci, who served six presidents for 36 years, said the transition period was crucial. Working with the new Biden-Harris administration would make the process smoother, he said.
When asked if public health officials would benefit from working with the Biden transition team, Fauci said, "Obviously, it would be better if we could work with them."
Fauci told CNN that Trump had not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in months. CNBC has asked the White House for comment.
The Biden-Harris campaign has released a step-by-step plan to fight Covid-19 and announced a Covid-19 Advisory Board, chaired by former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, assistant dean of health research at the Yale School of Medicine, on Monday.
Murthy said in an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that access to plans and dates could help the team advance its coronavirus efforts.
"These dialogues are critical," said Murthy. "There you want to get it up and running as soon as possible."
President-elect Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that the delayed transition could affect the timing of vaccine implementation. Pending approval, it is possible that distribution of the vaccine could begin as early as December and January, he said.
"Our experts need to speak to these people as soon as possible so that nothing subsides in this change of power that we will have on January 20th," Klain told NBC's Chuck Todd Sunday.
President Trump admitted that President-elect Biden won the election in a Twitter post on Sunday, but still refuses to admit after falsely claiming again that the race was "rigged". The Trump administration has still not officially accepted Biden's victory, delaying the president-elect's access to vital government resources and intelligence.
General Services Administration Director Emily Murphy is required to sign paperwork for the transition process to begin. The GSA didn't return CNBC's request for comment, and a Biden interim official told NBC News that the president-elect's team had received no updates following Trump's Twitter post on Sunday morning.
Coronavirus outbreaks are on the rise in the US as the nation enters the worst phase of the pandemic predicted by health experts, as virus transmission typically peaks during the winter months. According to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the US reported a daily average of more than 145,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a 33% increase from the previous week.
More than 245,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus since the pandemic began, and more than 10.9 million people have been infected.