New Zealand Prime Minister Calls Biden & Recognizes His Presidency

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On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she offered assistance to President-elect Joe Biden on tackling the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. With a total population of about 4.9 million, across the entire pandemic, New Zealand has recorded just over 2,000 total COVID-19 cases and 25 COVID-19 deaths, as of Monday. In contrast, as of that same point, the United States has recorded over 12 million COVID-19 cases and over 260,000 deaths. New Zealand has imposed strict lockdown measures, while with Trump in charge, the United States has hesitated around lockdowns — to say the least.

In New Zealand, Ardern said that she “offered to [Biden] and his team access to New Zealand health officials in order to share their experience on things we’ve learnt on our Covid-19 journey,” according to Reuters; the outlet notes that New Zealand “is widely heralded as one of most successful countries in suppressing COVID-19.” Meanwhile, according to the Biden team’s account of the president-elect’s conversation with Ardern, Biden “expressed his intent to strengthen the U.S.-New Zealand partnership” on fronts including the fights against both climate change and COVID-19, both of which Trump has routinely refused to take as seriously as the situations demand. Biden “also praised the prime minister’s extraordinary leadership after the 2019 Christchurch massacre, on COVID-19, and as a working mother and role model,” his team says.

The Biden transition team has struggled to access domestic resources that they need in order to appropriately prepare to take over in January because of the refusal of the General Services Administration, a federal agency, to officially conclude that Biden won the election. At present, no remotely reasonable pathway exists by which Trump could overturn enough of the election results to come close to handing himself a win — but the General Services Administration has declined to act.

Cooperation with those who’ve been successful in fighting the virus seems like a rather fundamental step, but could anyone outside of Trump’s base really imagine him taking something that another world leader said to heart if that leader didn’t pepper their remarks with obnoxious flattery? These days, as the U.S. struggles through yet another staggering surge of the virus, with strained hospital systems and rising death tolls across the country, Trump seems content to whine about the election on Twitter and play golf — and little else. His team has tried to garner praise for previously announced government financial support for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, but this vaccine development support seems like a bare minimum.