Hutchinson warns Presidential transition delay could harm vaccine distribution, which launches in December

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 713 views 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson thinks President Donald Trump is entitled to pursue legal challenges in the election process, but he acknowledges that former Vice President Joe Biden is likely to be sworn in as the 46th U.S. President, and he feels strongly that transition planning needs to occur sooner rather than later.

“It is important that if President Trump has legal remedies, recounts, that he’s able to go through that process, and that’s happening,” Hutchinson said in a Sunday (Nov. 22) interview on Talk Business & Politics. “Nothing should short-circuit his ability to assure the fairness of the election. But we’ve got to do more than one thing at a time, and it’s likely that Vice President Biden will be the next president of the United States. I mean, you can read the tea leaves.”

On Thursday, Hutchinson and other governors met with President-elect Biden through a National Governors Association session. Hutchinson, who is vice-chair of the NGA, said Biden needs to be brought up to speed on plans for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which could begin in Arkansas in December.

“We have to also prepare Vice President Biden for the future,” Hutchinson said. “He needed to hear what’s happening with the potential for vaccine distribution, how we rely upon the reagents, the testing, so much that we get from the federal government and the partnership that we have. And so, we’ve got to get him prepared because the virus does not take a break because there’s a disputed election. It continues and we cannot let a gap happen in our preparedness.

“We don’t want them to reinvent some good partnerships that exist. They can put their own ideas in there, but they have to be able to understand what’s happening now and how the states are relying upon the inventory, the supply chain, how we have some flexibility on issues, and how it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Biden told the governors’ group he will lean on the National Defense Act in the procurement process for many resources ranging from PPE, testing supplies, and vaccine distribution necessities.

“He [Biden] pledged that he would work closely with the states, which is reassuring. We likewise said the governors are available in a bipartisan way to work with the administration, and so that partnership is critical. So, it was a very, very good conversation,” Hutchinson said.

“But again, it struck me that he needs to understand where we are now more clearly. And for example, HHS [Health and Human Services] in the Trump administration has told me that within 24 hours of the emergency-use authorization being approved for the new vaccines that it would actually be physically in our state. So they’re going to move very, very quickly. And those are the kind of understandings and information needs to be passed along and shared with Vice President Biden’s coronavirus task force,” the governor said.

You can watch Gov. Hutchinson’s full interview in the video below.