Washington, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- President-Elect Joe Biden, after declaring victory in last week’s presidential election, briefed the nation on the fight to control the coronavirus, warning that the country is facing “a very dark winter” and “imploring” Americans to wear facemasks.
“Please, I implore you, wear a mask,” Biden told a crowd of reporters at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. “We can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask. Not Democrat or Republican lives – American lives.”
“We’re ready to get to work addressing the needs of the American people. Today that work begins. It starts with doing everything possible to get the COVID-19 under control,” Biden said, adding however that “We’re still facing a very dark winter” and noting that Covid-19 infections and deaths are continuing to climb.
Biden gave his remarks after meeting with his recently created working group on the Covid-19 pandemic, calling it a crisis that is taking 1,000 lives a day.
In his first move as president-elect, Biden announced the formation of the working group to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, with the US – as the country that has been hit worst by the virus – on Monday exceeding 10 million confirmed cases.
The Covid working group includes 13 medical experts including the former director of the Food and Drug Administration, David Kessler; Yale University Prof. Marcella Nunez-Smith; and Zeke Emanuel, a former advisor to ex-President Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president from 2009-2017.
This was the first public speech or set of remarks Biden has given since delivering his victory speech last Saturday, in which he presented himself as a president who wants to heal the wounds in the US to end the country’s political polarization, despite the fact that outgoing President Donald Trump still has not acknowledged his defeat or conceded.
Biden promised to listen to the science on the coronavirus in dealing with the pandemic.
The president-elect’s office unveiled the main elements of his plan, which includes guaranteeing free access to coronavirus testing and resolving the shortages of individual protective equipment.
Biden also said that under the plan, his administration will provide clear, coherent and evidence-based recommendations on how each community should deal with the pandemic and what resources will be provided to schools, small businesses and families, and he insisted that social distancing is fundamental in preventing the spread of the too-often-deadly virus.
Finally, Biden said he will seek the “immediate” resumption of the US relationship with the World Health Organization, from which Trump withdrew the country, adding that the WHO is “not perfect” but it is essential to coordinate a global response to the pandemic at a time when the world has now suffered 50 million confirmed Covid-19 infections.
Biden took advantage of the occasion to welcome the announcement by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer that its Covid-19 vaccine is 90 percent effective, above the level required by US regulators, a situation that allows it to receive quick emergency authorization to make it available to the public.
Biden, who takes office along with Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on Jan. 20, 2021, said that the Pfizer announcement was “great news.”
But, he warned, it will still take “months” to bring the battle against the virus to a conclusion and, during that time, Americans will still have to continue wearing facemasks, social distancing, contact tracing, washing hands and following other protocols to keep themselves healthy until well into next year.
The US exceeded 10 million confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, and 237,000 people have died from the virus so far in this country, according to the independent tally being kept by The Johns Hopkins University.