US President-elect Joe Biden has delivered a passionate appeal to Americans to wear a mask as the best way to “turn this pandemic around”.
Mr Biden said the US faced a “very dark winter” and the “worst wave yet”, and Americans had to put aside political differences to tackle Covid-19.
He has named a new task force and vowed to “follow the science” as he puts together his transition team.
Donald Trump still refuses to concede defeat and is challenging key results.
He is taking legal action in several states.
Mr Biden’s victory was declared on Saturday but it remains a projection, with a number of states still counting ballot papers. He leads Mr Trump in the nationwide vote by about 4.5 million.
Mr Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris have launched a website for the transition, saying the team will also focus on climate change, the economy and tackling racism.
But the president-elect will need the help of an agency called the General Services Administration to begin the transition process and its Trump-appointed head has given no indication when that will happen.
What are the Covid plans?
On Monday, Mr Biden set out the blueprints for his Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board.
In a TV address, he said “I implore you, wear a mask”, calling it the “single most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of Covid”.
He added: “A mask is not a political statement but it is a good way to start pulling the country together.”
During the election campaign, his mask-wearing was markedly different to President Trump, whose attitude to it has varied considerably.
They have differed too on how to follow scientific advice. Mr Biden said on Monday there would be a “bedrock of science” to his policy. President Trump’s comments on Covid-19 have often conflicted with scientists, including leading infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci.
Mr Biden said that, as president, he would improve contact-tracing and supplies of protective equipment, and address the racial disparity of coronavirus infections.
“This is a crisis that affects everyone and I will be a president for everyone,” he said. “We can get this virus under control, I promise you.”
He earlier named three co-chairs and 10 members of his task force. Among the co-chairs named is Vivek Murthy, who was appointed US surgeon-general by President Barack Obama in 2014 and removed by President Trump in 2017.
One member is immunologist Rick Bright, who says he was ignored and then removed by the Trump administration over his early warnings on Covid.
Mr Biden also welcomed the news from Pfizer and BioNTech that preliminary analysis showed their vaccine in development could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19.
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But he also warned it was “important to understand that the end of the battle against Covid-19 is still months away”.
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Covid cases in the US since the epidemic began are nearing 10 million, and there have been more than 237,000 deaths recorded so far, Johns Hopkins research shows.
Donald Trump also welcomed the vaccine statement, tweeting that it was “such great news”.
On his second full day as US president-elect, Joe Biden had a simple message for the American people: Wear a mask. It may be a “small act”, he said, but it would save lives and help see the nation through what could be a “very dark winter” of rising Covid-19 cases and fatalities.
Mr Biden’s statements came as he unveiled his coronavirus task force, comprised of a number of leading public-health experts who have spent much of this year criticising the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic from the sidelines.
And on a day with good news about progress on a coronavirus vaccine, which is being heralded by Donald Trump and his supporters, Mr Biden offered words of caution that there is still much work to be done before the outbreak is controlled.
That he chose addressing the pandemic as the first public event for his new transition team suggests he recognises that this will be the biggest issue he faces in the early days of the presidency.
It also afforded him an opportunity to look and act like a man who will soon be president, despite Donald Trump’s decision to not concede defeat.
What are the other transition plans?
They reportedly include a slew of executive orders – written orders issued by the president to the federal government that do not require congressional approval – aimed at reversing controversial Trump policies. They are in draft form and cannot be issued until he takes office. According to US media:
- Mr Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement, which the US officially left on Wednesday
- He will reverse the decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization
- He will end the travel ban on citizens from seven mostly Muslim countries
- He will reinstate an Obama-era policy of granting immigration status to undocumented migrants who entered the US as children
Mr Biden also aims to make addressing racism a key policy, including better access to affordable housing for black and minority communities.