From a public health standpoint, the presidential election could not have come at a worse time. Health officials have long warned of a devastating winter, and case totals and deaths have spiked just as millions of Americans are set to congregate with their families over the holidays. President Trump’s persistent downplaying of the crisis, experts say, will continue to have deadly consequences — and as a result, leave Biden to inherit a country experiencing its worst Covid-19 crisis since the first recorded U.S. cases in late January.

“So many of us are worried that now that Biden has won, the Trump administration is going to take a scorched-earth approach,” said Saskia Popescu, a University of Arizona epidemiology professor and biodefense expert. “It’s going to be very, very scary.”…

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it: It looks bad,” said Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease physician and associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine. “In a month, this country is going to be in a really bad place.”

The resulting void could leave Biden in a bind. Typically, a president-elect doesn’t publicly challenge the outgoing president on basic matters of governance until their inauguration. But a leadership vacuum at a critical point in the country’s pandemic response, Biden’s aides say, isn’t an option.