Fauci said that a recent University of Washington model projection that estimated the country could see another 200,000 deaths by March 1st might be accurate if Americans don’t change their behavior between now and then.
“The models, as I have said so often, are as good as the assumptions you put into the model. And we have got to change those assumptions,” Fauci said. “We have got to say, we are going to turn it around very, very vigorously adhering to the public-health measures. And we don’t need to get to that number.”
Another ray of hope is a possible vaccine, Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “We are going to start getting doses of vaccines available for the highest-priority individuals sometime in mid-to-late December,” he said.
But a major problem remains: a lackluster federal response led by the Trump administration. When asked when the president last attended a meeting of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci said it was “months ago.”
And now, with the president refusing to concede and begin the transition process, it only further hinders President-elect Biden’s team from hitting the ground running when he is inaugurated in January.
“It’s almost like passing a baton in a race,” Fauci said of presidential transitions. “You don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody. You want to just essentially keep going — and that is what transition is, so it certainly would make things [go] more smoothly if we could do that.”
Tapper followed up, asking, “As a public-health measure, you think it would be a good idea if your team would be able to work with the Biden-Harris transition team right now, just in terms of what is best for the public health of the American people?”
Fauci responded, “Of course it would be better if we can start working with them.”
Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who is serving as co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus advisory board, echoed Fauci’s comments on Fox News Sunday.
“There are thousands and thousands of career civil servants and political appointees who have been working very hard on this pandemic for many months now,” Murthy said. “They have plans that are in process. They have data they have collected that the public doesn’t always have access to — and to be able to see that data, see those plans, is what’s going to help us put together the best possible product in the end.”
“So those dialogues are critical,” he added. “We are going to need that as soon as possible to make this all work well.”
But don’t hold your breath. Trump still appears to be in denial that he lost, filing court cases across the country and making unsubstantiated false claims of a “rigged election.”