US President-elect Joe Biden will give a speech on Wednesday highlighting the challenges facing Americans as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and the nation faces a surge in coronavirus infections and a wave of unpopular health restrictions.
The address is meant to encourage Americans and focus on the sacrifices they are making during the holiday season, his office said, as officials across the country plead with Americans to stay at home and avoid large gatherings that can spread Covid-19.
Biden, who introduced his foreign policy and national security team on Tuesday as he begins a formal transition to the White House after defeating Republican President Donald Trump, has promised to make fighting the pandemic his top priority in office.
The number of patients being treated for coronavirus infections in US hospitals surpassed 86,000, an all-time high, on Tuesday. The death toll has passed 257,000.
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The soaring caseload has taxed healthcare providers and further strained medical resources as 171,000 Americans test positive and another 1,500 or more perish from Covid-19 every day, on average.
Not everyone appears to be heeding the warnings against travel. Millions of Americans have flocked to airports and highways in the days leading to Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, leading to the busiest US travel period since the early days of the pandemic in March, though well below pre-pandemic holiday levels.
Biden, who plans to spend Thanksgiving at home in Delaware with a few family members, said on Tuesday his team has been able to coordinate with the Trump administration on the pandemic, vaccine distribution plans and national security since getting the green light on Monday for formal transition efforts.
The White House also gave the go-ahead for Biden to start receiving the president’s daily intelligence briefing.
“It’s been offered,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday. “I did not have it today. We’re going to do it on a regular basis.”
Trump has waged a failing legal battle to overturn the election results, falsely claiming it was stolen through widespread voting fraud. Critics have said Trump’s refusal to accept the results undercut Biden’s ability to combat the coronavirus pandemic and deal with national security threats.