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Joe Biden Called On Americans To ‘step Up’, Wear A Mask And Social Distance As Covid Spikes

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As the U.S. continues to set grim records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, President-elect Joe Biden told Americans to “step up and do their part” to get the virus under control.

“I renew my call for every American, regardless of where they live or who they voted for, to step up and do their part on social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing to protect themselves and to protect others,” said Biden in a Friday statement.

“I understand it’s not easy. I know people are tired. But this will not go on forever,” he continued. “We are moving toward a vaccine. We are improving our ability to test. We are developing better treatments.”

“But right now is a moment for shared responsibility and shared action […] And I promise you, from the moment I am sworn in on January 20, I will do everything in my power to lead this unified national effort.”

President-elect Joe Biden speaks to the media while flanked by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on November 9 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Joe Raedle/Getty

His statement comes a day after the U.S. shattered another daily record in reporting more than 153,000 new COVID cases on Thursday and over 66,000 hospitalizations nationwide, according to data from Johns Hopkins. As of Friday, there are over 10 million cases and more than 243,000 deaths in the U.S. linked to coronavirus.

California and Texas both hit 1 million total cases each since the start of the pandemic, while Thursday marked the seventh of nine days that the number of infections reached new records. While hospitalization numbers soared in most states, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projected that nearly 2,000 people could die of COVID-19 every day by the end of December.

Several states are putting restrictions on social gatherings, travel and hours of operation for businesses to help limit the rapid spread of COVID-19 this fall. According to a list by AARP, 34 states (as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) require people to wear face coverings in public—with Utah recently joining the ranks and Ohio reissuing its mandate.

Oregon, Washington and California have issued travel advisories asking residents to avoid all nonessential out-of-state travel and urging visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Biden began his statement by detailing his meeting with the co-chairs of the transition COVID-19 advisory board, which briefed him on surging cases and the enormous strain put on hospitals and healthcare workers. He also mentioned the positive recent developments towards a coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer and BioNTech announced earlier this week that their COVID-19 vaccine candidate could be up to 90 percent effective.

“This week’s news on progress toward a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is positive, but it will be many months before there is widespread vaccination in this country,” Biden said.

“This crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response, which has been woefully lacking,” he continued. “I am the president-elect, but I will not be president until next year. The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration.”

In a press conference on Friday, President Donald Trump said his administration’s response to the virus and Operation Warp Speed is the “single greatest mobilization in U.S. history.” He also said a vaccine would be widely available by April, while singling out New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by saying that the administration would not deliver a vaccine to the state “until we have authorization to do so” by the governor. The president’s remark appeared to be a response to Cuomo’s recent announcement that the state would create an independent panel to review the vaccine.

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