The Latest: Biden to name Murthy, Kessler to virus panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):

10:25 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is planning to name former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler as co-chairs of the coronavirus working group he’s launching this week.

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield announced the two public health experts would lead the task force during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Murthy and Kessler have been part of a group of experts and doctors that have briefed Biden on the pandemic for months throughout the campaign.

Murthy served as surgeon general during President Barack Obama’s second term, and Kessler was FDA commissioner in the 1990s and now serves as board chair at the Centers for Science in the Public Interest.

Biden said during his victory speech Saturday night that he’d unveil the full COVID-19 task force on Monday. They’ll be tasked with taking the proposals he’s released during the campaign for dealing with the pandemic — which include investments in personal protective equipment and loans for small businesses as well as plans to implement more standardized public health guidelines — and turning them into a “blueprint” that he’ll enact when inaugurated president next January.

Biden made President Donald Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic a central focus of his campaign against the Republican and pledged if elected to make combating the pandemic his top priority.

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10:15 a.m.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says that President Donald Trump is within his rights to pursue recounts and legal challenges in close races that decided last week’s election but urged Trump to dial back his rhetoric.

Romney told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he thought it was unlikely that a recount or legal challenges will change the outcome and suggested Trump “be careful in the choice of words.”

The Republican senator, who has been a frequent critic of Trump’s, says when a president says an “election was ‘corrupt’ or ‘stolen’ or ‘rigged,’ that that’s unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world.”

Romney, who was the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, added that Trump’s language also “discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home.”

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TRANSITION

Democrat Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States. The inauguration is in January.

Read more:

— Americans pivot from red-hot Trump to Biden’s seasoned cool

— Trump, who never admits defeat, mulls how to keep up fight

— Message of Election 2020: Trump lost, but Trumpism did not

— Fight for Senate control awaits in Georgia after Biden’s win

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WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

10 a.m.

The highest-ranking Black member of Congress says President Donald Trump should concede the presidency to President-elect Joe Biden, although he says it’s more crucial what the rest of the Republican Party does in the wake of the 2020 election.

U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina told CNN on Sunday that the GOP “has a responsibility here” and that he’s watching to see “whether or not the Republican Party will step up and help us preserve the integrity of this democracy.”

Clyburn also said he sees the United States as “teetering” following Trump’s term, advising that “we had better get a hold of ourselves and this country and stop catering to whims of one person.”

Clyburn also talked about his endorsement of Biden ahead of South Carolina’s early primary, a nod that helped boost Biden to win that contest, gain momentum and ultimately clinch the nomination. Saying the field was full of good candidates, Clyburn said he “came to the conclusion that Joe Biden was our best bet.”

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9 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden will launch an “agency review teams” this coming week. It’s the group of transition staffers that have access to key agencies in the current administration to smooth the transfer of power.

The teams will collect and review information such as budgetary and staffing decisions, pending regulations and other work in progress from current staff at the federal departments.

The teams are meant to lay much of the groundwork so that the thousands of new staffers and appointees who will take over in January will have a road map and guidelines for how to continue the federal government’s work without pause, and how to shift the departments toward Biden’s priorities.

Biden’s campaign launched a transition team in May, and they’ve been working alongside designated staffers in President Donald Trump’s administration on transition planning for months. But the agency review process begins in earnest after a new president is elected. Biden has just over 10 weeks to prepare before he is inaugurated.

On Monday, he plans to announce a team of scientists and experts that will work to craft a coronavirus response plan that can be enacted when he takes office.

Biden’s transition team has also come out with a transition-focused website — BuildBackBetter.com — and is launching transition-focused social media accounts under the username “Transition46.”

Categories: National News