WILMINGTON, Del. – During a year-end address, President-elect Joe Biden warned that country is far from emerging from the coronavirus crisis.
“Our darkest days in this battle against COVID are ahead of us, not behind us. So, we need to prepare ourselves and steel our spines,” said Biden in Wilmington on Tuesday. “As frustrating as it is to hear, it’s going to take patience and persistence and determination to beat this virus. There will be no time to waste in taking the steps we need to turn this crisis around.”
Watch Biden's speech below:
During his speech, Biden spoke about the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill that Congress approved Monday and is awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature. He said the bill is a good next step, but more funding will be needed in the coming year.
“I have said all along, this bill is just a first step — a down payment — on addressing the crisis we’re in. We have a lot more work to do,” said Biden.
Biden also took the chance to express sympathy for the many American families who are struggling financially and emotionally as they celebrate the holidays in isolation amid the global pandemic.
“With over 320,000 lives lost to this virus, Jill and I send our prayers to all of you facing this dark winter with an empty seat at the dinner table where your loved one used to sit, talk, and laugh,” said Biden. “Our hearts go out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own, unable to sleep at night, weighed down with the worry of what tomorrow will bring for you and for your family.”
Like for Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging people to celebrate the end of year holidays at home with the people you live with. Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.
“Like we did over Thanksgiving, we all have to care enough for each other that we have to stay apart just a little longer,” said Biden. “I know it’s hard, but we have a long way to go.”
Biden also encouraged Americans to continue taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the nation ramps up its vaccination efforts.
“We need everyone to mask up, stay socially distant, and avoid large gatherings,” said Biden. “And we need to work in a bipartisan way. That’s the only way we’ll get through this.”
Biden himself received his initial dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, shortly after his wife did as well. He joined a growing list of officials who have publicly been vaccinated to show confidence in the vaccination process.
During his remarks, Biden said he has “absolute confidence in the vaccine,” but the country is short on supply. He explained that vaccinating millions of people will be a logistical challenge.
“Taking the vaccine from a vial and into the arms of millions of Americans will be the biggest operational challenge we’ve ever faced. It will take many more months for that to happen,” said Biden. “In the meantime, the pandemic rages on.”
Early next year, Biden said he will put his plans for what’s to come before the Congress. He said we will need more help to fully distribute the vaccine, to reopen our schools, to help our front-line workers, and to make sure those struggling to make ends meet are taken care of.
On his day in office, Biden says he will enact masking requirements, a new strategy on testing, and work on accelerated production of protective gear.
Biden also discussed the recent cyber security breach against U.S. companies and federal agencies. He blamed the Trump administration for failing to prioritize cyber security
“From eliminating and/or downgrading cyber coordinators at both the White House and the State Department, to firing his Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to President Trump’s irrational downplaying of the seriousness of this attack,” said Biden. “In an age when so much of our lives are conducted online, cyber attacks must be treated as a serious threat by our leadership at the highest levels.”
Biden said he believes we must treat cyber threats with the same seriousness of purpose that we treated the threat of other unconventional weapons.
“We must work with our allies to establish clear international rules and mechanisms to enforce them and consequences for those that violate them,” said Biden.
After his remarks, Biden took questions.
When asked about the potential for more direct payments, Biden said his plan will include a new round of stimulus checks for the American people, but the amount is a “negotiating issue.”
Regarding his choice for attorney general, he said he’s still trying to determine who will serve in that role and that “there’s not an obvious choice in mind.”
When asked if he would announce his 2024 bid early to show he's not going to be a lame duck president, Biden said, "I'm not going to be a lame duck. Just watch me. Just watch me."