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Baker: Trump's Refusal To Accept Election Results Distracts From Fight Against COVID-19

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks while wearing a mask bearing the Massachusetts seal. (Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Gov. Charlie Baker speaks while wearing a mask bearing the Massachusetts seal. (Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

President Donald Trump's repeated attempts to sow doubt about the results of last week's presidential election are bad for the country and distract from efforts to wrestle the COVID-19 pandemic under control, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.

The Republican governor said he is "dismayed" to see Trump and other Republicans present "baseless claims" of widespread voter fraud, and that he's seen no credible evidence of impropriety that would change the outcome of the election, which Democrat Joe Biden is projected to have won. Baker said the Trump administration's move to have federal prosecutors under the Department of Justice review election results "is so wildly inappropriate."

"Stalling an orderly transition process, especially at a time like this, is equally unacceptable," Baker said. "I can't think of a worse time to stall a transition than amid a deadly pandemic that the federal government continues to own primary responsibility for responding to."

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said her federal counterparts aren't responding to questions about vaccine distribution and prioritization. This comes as Pfizer announces plans to request an emergency use authorization for its vaccine later this month.

“There’s been no communication since the election about what are the next steps in vaccines,” Sudders said.

Before the election, governors were talking to federal officials about more resources for testing and contact tracing, but those talks have stopped, Baker said. Some hospital leaders say federal funds available through the CARES Act seems to be stalled.

Baker said the Trump administration must not withhold information from President-elect Biden’s transition team, especially his COVID-19 advisory board, as the pandemic intensifies. Infection rates are rising in more than half of the country.

Massachusetts is preparing to once again open field hospitals as ICUs fill across the state, according to Baker.

“We are at a very critical moment with respect to this nation's response to this virus,” he said. “And there isn't guidance, direction or a consistent message coming from D.C., and that's a problem.”

Baker is among the first Republican leaders to suggest a stalled transition of power could damage efforts to control the coronavirus. One former White House COVID task force adviser offered similar concerns. Some health care leaders declined comment, saying they are working the phones in the nation’s capital, for now, urging cooperation with Biden’s team. The White House has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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