President-elect urges shared sacrifice amid hardship of restricted holiday, and says: ‘We’re at war with the virus, not each other’
In an eve-of-Thanksgiving address on Wednesday, Joe Biden drew on historic hardships and his deep personal loss to make a passionate appeal for resilience, asking Americans to endure a national holiday amid restrictions on travel and gatherings imposed to fight the pandemic.
More than 12.6m cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the US and more than 260,000 people have died. Vaccines are imminent but hospitalisations and deaths are surging, straining infrastructure to breaking point as leaders warn of impending disaster.
His speech struck a note of unity. “We need to remember, we’re at war with the virus, not with each other,” Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware, where he is continuing transition work before his inauguration as the 46th president in Washington on 20 January.
The tone was in marked contrast to speeches by Donald Trump, who shortly after Biden spoke announced in a tweet that he was giving a full pardon to Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with a Russian official.
While Trump has allowed the Biden transition to proceed he has not conceded defeat or stopped making baseless claims of electoral fraud. On Wednesday the president cancelled a trip to Gettysburg meant to support efforts to overturn his defeat in Pennsylvania, after at least two aides to lawyer Rudy Giuliani tested positive for Covid-19. Trump instead addressed state Republicans remotely, claiming: “This election was lost by the Democrats. They cheated. It was a fraudulent election.”