U.S. President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans on Wednesday to “steel our spines” against the surging coronavirus pandemic but assured them that “America is not going to lose this war.”
A day ahead of the annual Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Biden promised, “There’s real hope, so hang on. This will not last forever.”
He said the first vaccines against the coronavirus might be available by the end of December, while vowing to “get the entire country immunized as soon as we can.”
Speaking from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said in the meantime, Americans need to adopt precautions many have been reluctant to employ or pointedly ignored — physically distancing themselves from other people, wearing face masks and not gathering in large groups.
Biden said throughout his life, he has been accustomed to large family gatherings on Thanksgiving but is celebrating only with first lady-to-be Jill Biden, their daughter, Ashley, and her husband, Howard Krein.
Biden, set to be inaugurated January 20, said the country is “facing a long, hard winter.” The U.S. recorded a million new infections in each of the last two weeks, and its death toll has now topped 261,000, more than in any other country, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Still, Biden said, “We need to remember we’re at war against the virus, not each other. The people of this nation are up to the task.”
Biden won the November 3 election over President Donald Trump, who is continuing his long-shot legal efforts to upend Biden’s victory.
Biden did not mention Trump by name in his address, saying only, “In America, we have full, free elections. Then we honor the results.”
Ahead of the speech, his transition team said it is receiving “extraordinary receptions” from officials in the outgoing Trump administration to help Biden take control of the U.S. government in less than two months.
Trump acquiesced in the official start of Biden’s transition to power this week but has not conceded defeat. However, election officials in key battleground states have declared Biden the winner, giving him an unofficial 306-232 edge in the Electoral College that determines the outcome of U.S. presidential contests.
"We have to turn the election over," Trump told Republican supporters in Pennsylvania on a phone call.
Biden adviser Kate Bedingfield told reporters, “The election is over. Everyone has accepted the outcome except President Trump and [Trump lawyer] Rudy Giuliani.”
Bedingfield said Biden transition officials are getting information from Trump officials about national security issues the country faces, along with plans for approval and distribution of prospective vaccines to inoculate millions of people against the coronavirus.
Biden and Trump have not spoken since the November 3 election. Biden aide Jen Psaki downplayed the lack of communication, saying, “We do not feel it is essential to talk with President Trump,” although Biden has said he would be willing to meet with the outgoing president.