Presumed President-elect Joseph R Biden on Wednesday called on the nation to come together over the Thanksgiving holiday in the battle against the coronavirus, saying “we need to steel our spines.”
Mr. Biden said it is “our patriotic duty as Americans” to take the “simple steps” — including wearing a mask and avoiding large family gatherings — to slow the spike in COVID-19 cases, ease the burden on front-line health care workers and save lives.
“So hang on,” Mr. Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware. “Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue, which I understand there is real fatigue. I know we can and will beat this virus.”
Mr. Biden said he understands how disappointing it is to break family traditions around the holidays, but said the promising news about vaccines should give people “real hope” that life will return to normal.
“I know the country has grown weary of the fight, but we need to remember we are at war with the virus, not with one another — not with each other,” he said.”This is a moment where we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts, and recommit ourselves to the fight.”
“Let’s remember — we are all in this together,” he said.
The coronavirus has defined 2020, upending everyday life, wreaking havoc on the economy and employment, and adding to the political polarization that has defined the nation’s politics.
Heading into Thanksgiving, over 260,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus.
Transmission, meanwhile, is flaring up across the country, especially the Midwest, with an average of 175,000 infections being reported per day over the last week.
Cases tend to rise exponentially, and the combination of holiday gatherings and colder months, when respiratory disease thrive, has experts fearing the worst is yet to come.
An average of 1,600 deaths have been reported per day, on average, during the past seven days — double the roughly 800 who were dying per day a month ago.
More than 88,000 people are in the hospital for COVID-19 nationwide, an all-time high that exceeds the springtime crush in the Northeast and summer surge in the Sun Belt.
Mr. Biden drew parallels to the current situation and the first national day of Thanksgiving in 1777.
“It took place under harsh conditions and deprivations — lacking food, clothing, shelter. They were preparing to ride out a long hard winter,” he said. “Looking back over our history you’ll see that it’s been in the most difficult of circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged.”
“Now, we find ourselves again facing a long, hard winter,” he said.
The address comes as Mr. Biden forges ahead with filling posts in his administration.
The White House earlier this week opened the door for a transition of power, though President Trump has refused to concede the election, insisting that he won in a landslide fashion and that Democrats stole the election in battleground states.
Mr. Biden didn’t bring up Mr. Trump in his Thanksgiving-eve remarks but did take a subtle jab at him.
He suggested the record-breaking voter participation in the 2020 election showed that the nation should be “thankful for democracy itself.”
“In the middle of a pandemic, more people voted this year than have ever voted in the history of America,” he said. “Our democracy was tested this year. And what we learned is this: The people of this nation are up to the task.”
“In America, we have full and fair and free elections, and then we honor the results,” he said. “The people of this nation and the laws of the land won’t stand for anything else.”