ATLANTA — As a new administration takes over the White House, Georgia's new U.S. senator, Raphael Warnock, said the previous leadership didn't leave a plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Warnock, who was sworn in after President Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, sat for an interview with 11Alive's Cheryl Preheim Thursday about the pandemic and the road that lies ahead.
“We’ve got important work to do, we’ve got to pass COVID relief," he said. "We need to make sure that we do what is necessary to get this vaccine safely and efficiently distributed."
“It was quite striking to learn - not that we were terribly surprised - that the Trump administration left with no plan to distribute this vaccine," Warnock said.
CNN also reported that their sources confirmed that Biden and his advisers are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration. This leaves them to "have to build everything from scratch," the source told CNN.
However, they reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser on COVID, rejected the suggestion that the Biden administration would have to build a distribution plan from "scratch."
"We're certainly not starting from scratch, because there is activity going on in the distribution," Fauci said. He said Biden's team would be amplifying existing efforts.
COVID-19 data from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine shows that more than 400,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S.
The senator, who has pastored the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta for years, said he knows members of his own congregation who lost their lives to the virus. He told 11Alive he's even had two classmates from high school die in recent weeks.
“As we think about the numbers, we should never reduce these names to numbers, these human beings to hashtags," Warnock said.
Meanwhile, Biden signed 10 executive orders Thursday that are aimed at jump starting his national COVID-19 strategy. The orders focus on increasing vaccinations and testing, among other things.