Leadership at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, beset by a Trump White House that was harshly critical of the agency’s coronavirus response, are anticipating the Biden transition team and the change a new administration will bring, senior health officials tell CNN.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for is for them to send their landing team here and set up shop,” a senior CDC official said Tuesday following the ascertainment declaration from the General Services Administration.
On Monday, the GSA informed President-elect Joe Biden that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process, according to a letter from Administrator Emily Murphy, marking the first step the Trump administration has taken to acknowledge President Donald Trump’s defeat — more than two weeks after Biden was declared the winner in the election.
The Biden team was not able to access funding or participate in transition talks with government personnel until the GSA initiated the process, which raised concerns about the transition, especially as the Biden team prepares to take over the response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and distribution of a vaccine.
The senior CDC official told CNN that they expect there will be some “rebuilding of the agency” under Biden, though that is standard operating procedure in any transition of administrations.
When asked if there was more enthusiasm among senior leaders at the CDC on Tuesday morning due to the start of the transition, the official said emphatically, “Yes!”
A federal health official declined to say if they had spoken directly to anyone from the Biden transition team as of Tuesday morning. But having been through numerous administration transitions, “the CDC benefits when that happens quickly,” the official said.
“From experience, the faster you get through it the better,” the official said of the transition.
The official said there did seem to be more enthusiasm that the CDC may be able to restart regular briefings, which were ordered to be stopped by the Trump administration at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Man oh man, I hope so,” the official said about the CDC returning to a more visible role.
The federal health official with knowledge of operations said that the CDC remains leading the public health response through its Emergency Operations Center.
“There are thousands of employees that continue to work on this. Whether it’s in the lab or in the field including the development of guidance, the formulation and execution of different studies to learn more about transmission and what sort of guidance is effective in preventing transmission of the disease.”
The official noted that the CDC has remained in daily contact with states regarding vaccine distribution and rollout. Also, as the nation grapples with record-breaking infection and hospitalizations, schools continue to be front and center in the response, the official said.
“The CDC continues to analyze school data and if necessary, it will refine or build on the guidance out there when it comes to schools.”