He told reporters afterward that governors had expressed concern with how long it took to make coronavirus tests widely available and hope to avoid similar delays once a vaccine is ready for distribution.
“This is not a one-off meeting,” Biden said. “We agreed that we’ll continue to meet with the governors on a regular basis; continue to seek their input.”
Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and a group of medical experts Biden has assembled as a coronavirus advisory board held a virtual meeting Thursday with 10 members of the National Governors Association’s executive committee.
The list of participants included Republicans Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Gary Herbert of Utah, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Kay Ivey of Alabama; the Democrats were Andrew Cuomo of New York, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Jared Polis of Colorado, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and John Carney of Delaware.
The meeting showed that some Republican governors are acknowledging the reality that Biden won the election and will be sworn in on January 20, as the pandemic continues to rage.
Biden acknowledged Thursday that the delay has hamstrung his transition team, saying that without the GSA administrator’s sign-off, “we don’t have access to all the information that we need to get from all the various agencies.”
Among the governors, though, Biden told reporters there was broad consensus about some matters, including the need for a national mask mandate. Wearing a mask, Biden said, is “not a political statement; it’s a patriotic duty.”
He also called for Congress to pass legislation that would send money to states, local governments and tribal communities to help pay for vital services and fund their National Guards.
“States and communities shouldn’t have to lay off teachers, cops, firefighters, cut off vital services for families and businesses,” Biden said.
Governors were alarmed with how long it took to distribute coronavirus tests, Biden said — underscoring the need for a plan to quickly distribute a vaccine once one is available.
He said he does not see any scenario in which he would seek any sort of national economic shutdown.
“I am not going to shut down the economy, period. I’m going to shut down the virus. That’s what I’m going to shut down,” Biden said.
“No national shutdown, because every region, every area, every community can be different. And so there’s no circumstance which I can see that would require total national shutdown,” he said. “I think that would be counterproductive.”
Biden said Americans are “witnessing incredible irresponsibility” from Trump, and that as a result of his actions, an “incredibly damaging message is being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”
“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks. It’s hard to fathom,” Biden said. “It’s just outrageous, what he’s doing.”