“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden, the president-elect, warned this week as cases of the virus rise around much of the U.S.

By Sean Neumann
November 18, 2020 09:59 AM
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President Donald Trump (left) and President-elect Joe Biden
| Credit: Shutterstock; Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In a grave tone meant to rebuke his predecessor's reluctance, President-elect Joe Biden said this week the stakes could not be higher as President Donald Trump continues to refuse to acknowledge the results of the election he lost and help with the country’s transfer of power.

“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden, 77, warned Monday, calling once again on Trump, 74, to concede as the president continues to insist that the election was rigged.

"And so it's important that it be done — that there be coordination now. Now, or as rapidly as we can get that done," Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has been preparing to take office in two months.

Biden honed in on the upcoming need to distribute vaccines for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), now that there are multiple versions showing very promising results, according to their manufacturers.

"The sooner we have access to the administration's distribution plan, the sooner this transition would be smoothly moved forward," Biden said Monday.

But the president has not yet bent. While hasn't provided proof of his claims of widespread fraud and various state officials have dismissed allegations of wrongdoing in the elections, he has bellowed on Twitter that "I WON THE ELECTION."

Separately, the president has said the public should not be "dominated" by the coronavirus and he has contradicted his health officials on the importance of basic safety steps like mask-wearing and social distancing.

President-elect Joe Biden
| Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty

Trump's delay in conceding is placing strain on the country’s pandemic response, Biden and his aides have said, while the coronavirus continues spreading at record-breaking rates.

The U.S. has had at least 11.2 million cases of the virus this year, while more than 246,800 people have died from the respiratory illness, according to a New York Times tracker.

In the last week, the Times reported there had been an average of 158,268 new cases per day — a roughly 28 percent increase from the week before.

Incoming administrations typically use the period between the election and Inauguration Day to get caught up to speed and ensure a smooth transition of power, Martha Kumar, the director of the White House Transition Project, told PEOPLE recently, adding that “what generally happens is somebody that has held a position will try to be helpful for the new person coming in.”

However,  a little-known Trump-appointed administrator at the General Services Administration is responsible for signing off, or “ascertaining,” the results of the 2020 election and she has not done so yet — which would further spur the transition process that legally began months ago.

President-elect Joe Biden
| Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock
President Donald Trump
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

Emily Murphy, the GSA administrator, has signaled she may wait until the Electoral College casts its votes for the president-elect on Dec. 14, until she signs off on the transition paperwork, which would free up resources and millions of dollars to help Biden’s team.

The Associated Press reports the Trump and Biden administrations have not coordinated on a vaccine distribution plan.

It’s “absolutely crucial that the apparent president-elect and his team have full access to the planning that has gone on” said Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, according to the AP.

Some federal health officials have also recommended Trump’s administration open the door for Biden in the name of public health, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading medical voice on COVID-19.

"I've been through multiple transitions now, having served six presidents for 36 years, and it's very clear that that transition process ... is really important in a smooth handing-over of the information," Fauci, 79, told CNN on Sunday.

"It's almost like passing a baton in a race. You don't want to stop, and then give it to somebody. You want to just essentially keep going," said Fauci, adding, "So, it certainly would make things [go] more smoothly if we could do that."