President-Elect Biden Sets Mitigating COVID-19 as Top Priority, Names Task Force, Urges Mask-Wearing as Key to ‘Getting Back to Normal Life’

Victory celebration in Wilmington, Delaware, Saturday, November 7 after Joe Biden crossed the 270-Electoral Vote threshold. President-Elect Joe Biden with Jill Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris with husband Douglas Emhoff. Biden has hit ground running, addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as his top priority © Karen Rubin/

Donald Trump, obscenely obsessive about being in the spotlight, fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in order to step on reporting of President-Elect Joe Biden’s remarks about actions he is taking to curb the potentially fatal COVID-19 pandemic, even before he takes the helm on January 20, 2021. But his remarks are crucial, and show up Trump for his most cynical failure of a remarkably failed occupation of the Oval Office: failing to develop a national strategy to mitigate the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, and bring Americans onboard in common cause and united purpose to contain the disease which has already infected 10 million and killed 240,000.

As Trump golfed over the weekend and Biden’s election totals hit the magic number of 270 Electoral College votes, there were new records in the number of infections set daily (120,000 a day) and 1,000 people a day dying so that it is forecast by Election Day another 100,000 could be dead under the Trump laissez-faire policy. Tens of thousands of lives could have been, should have been saved with a federal administration that organized PPE, ventilators, hospital beds and health personnel instead of letting states fend and even compete for themselves, and most importantly, if Trump promoted wearing masks, instead of holding super-spreader rallies and events and politicizing and demonizing mask-wearing.

Biden already has struck a dramatically different tone and taken actual actions to address the coronavirus pandemic, starting with giving a frank, science-based and realistic timetable and appointing a task force of experts to develop a plan of action. Even with the progress made toward a vaccine, it will take months before enough people can take the vaccine in order to achieve the “herd immunity” (that won’t come “magically” by washing over the general population and killing six million).

Here are President-elect Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware:  — Karen Rubin/

Good afternoon, everyone.
As I said on Saturday, I am humbled by the trust and confidence that the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris.
And we are ready to get to work, addressing the needs of the American people.
Today that work begins. 
It starts by doing everything possible to get COVID-19 under control so that we can reopen our businesses safely and sustainably, resume our lives, and put this pandemic behind us.
We’ve just received positive news in this fight with the announcement of progress toward a successful vaccine candidate. 

Soon, the FDA will run a process of rigorous reviews and approvals.
That process must also be grounded in science and fully transparent, so that the American people can have confidence that any approved vaccine is safe and effective.
At the same time, it’s clear that this vaccine, even if it is approved, will not be widely available for many months yet to come.
The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing, and so is the need for bold action to fight this pandemic. 
We are still facing a dark winter. There are now nearly 10 million COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Last week — we topped 120,000 new cases on multiple days.

Infection rates are going up. Hospitalizations are going up. Deaths are going up.
This crisis claims nearly a thousand American lives a day, nearly 240,000 deaths so far.

And projections still indicate we could lose 200,000 more lives in the coming months before a vaccine can be made available to everyone.
So we cannot forego the important work that needs to be done between now and then to get our country through the worst wave yet of this pandemic.

To reduce spread. To save lives. 
That’s why, today I have named a COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board, comprised of distinguished public health experts, to help our transition team translate the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan into an action blueprint that we can put into place as soon as Kamala and I are sworn into office on January 20, 2021.
And we will seek to add other members to this board who bring important perspectives and public health expertise throughout the transition.

This group will advise on detailed plans built on a bedrock of science, and that keep compassion, empathy, and care for every American at its core: 

Making rapid testing widely available, and building a corps of contact tracers who will track and curb this disease while we prioritize getting vaccinations first to the most at risk populations.
Developing clear and detailed guidance and providing the necessary resources for small businesses, schools, and child-care centers to reopen and operate safely and effectively during the pandemic—protecting both workers and the public.

Regarding Pfizer’s vaccine progress, Biden stated:

Last night, my public health advisors were informed of this excellent news. I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.   At the same time, it is also important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away. This news follows a previously announced timeline by industry officials that forecast vaccine approval by late November. Even if that is achieved, and some Americans are vaccinated later this year, it will be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country.   This is why the head of the CDC warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality.

Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact. America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and will continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate actions. That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. Today’s announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same.

Biden urged Americans to wear a mask. “A mask is not a political statement,” he said. The goal of wearing a mask is to “give something back to all of us: a normal life.”