“There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch,” one source said.
Another source described the moment that it became clear the Biden administration would have to essentially start from “square one” because there simply was no plan as: “Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence.”
The incoming White House now faces intense pressure to make good on the promises that Biden made during the campaign and the transition phase to drastically turn things around on the pandemic and conduct himself entirely differently from Trump when it comes to the virus and vaccine distribution.
Prior to Inauguration Day, some of Biden’s Covid-19 advisers had wanted to be careful not to be overly critical in public of the Trump administration’s handling of the virus and vaccine, given that the Biden transition team was already having a hard time getting critical information and cooperation from the outgoing administration, the source said.
Now that the transition of power has taken place, the Biden administration is hoping that they can quickly start to get a clearer picture of where things actually stand with vaccine distribution and administration across the country, going through something of a “fact-checking” exercise on what exactly the Trump administration had and had not done, they added.
Biden has made clear that slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and getting 100 million vaccine shots into Americans’ arms in his first 100 days in office are of utmost priority — goals that will shape whether Biden’s first years in office are ultimately deemed successful.
Within hours of being sworn into office, Biden signed an executive order requiring masks on all federal property, a part of his campaign promise to push for a federal mask mandate during his first 100 days in office.
“This is going to be the first of many engagements we’re going to have in here,” Biden said in his first appearance in the Oval Office as president. “I thought with the state of the nation today there’s no time to waste. Get to work immediately.”
Criticizing the “lack of cooperation” from the Trump administration as an “impediment” for the new administration, White House Covid coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on Wednesday that he was still confident that the administration can meet its 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days target.
“For almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy, let alone a comprehensive approach to respond to Covid,” Zients said. “And we’ve seen the tragic costs of that failure. As President Biden steps into office today … that’ll change tomorrow.”