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Briefing the nation Monday as he begins his transition to become the 46th president of the United States, President-elect Biden said that tens of thousands of lives could be saved if only Americans regularly and consistently wore face masks.
Outgoing President Donald Trump and a number of his allies have politicized the wearing of masks during the novel coronavirus pandemic, even as case numbers and deaths have climbed over the past eight months.
The nation in recent days has been breaking records for the spikes in the numbers of daily COVID-19 cases.
Biden’s briefing came on the same day pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc said its experimental vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data from a large study, a major victory in the fight against the pandemic.
“I want to be very clear, the goal of mask wearing is not to make your life less comfortable, or take something away from you, it’s to give something back to all of us, a normal life,” the president-elect added. “The goal is to get back to normal as fast as possible. And masks are critical in doing that. It won’t be forever but that’s how we’ll get our nation back, back up to speed economically. So we can go back to celebrating birthdays and holidays together, so we can attend sporting events together, so we can get back to lives and connections we shared before the pandemic.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not we always agree with one another. It doesn’t matter who you voted for. We are Americans and our country is under threat,” Biden said. “And now we’re now called to do the same thing that generations of proud Americans have done in the face of a crisis throughout our history, rise above our differences to defend the strength and vitality of our nation.”
Along with fighting the pandemic, uniting a deeply divided nation is among Biden’s top priorities.
“You know, that’s the character of patriots. That’s the character of Americans. We have to do this together. Wearing a mask may seem like a small act. Maybe you think your individual choice won’t make any difference. But throughout our history, throughout the history of our nation, we’ve seen over and over how small acts add up to enormous achievements,” he said. “It’s the weight of many small acts together that bend the arc of history. You know, I know there’s nothing the American people can’t accomplish when we work together as one people with one mission. We can get the virus under control, I promise you. We can rebuild our economy back better than it was before. We can address race based disparities that damage our country. It’s in our power.
“So let’s wear a mask. Let’s get to work. Thank you. May God bless you, and for all those who’ve lost somebody, our heart goes out to you. We know what it’s like. Our heart goes out to you,” he added. “May God protect our health workers, our health care workers, and all Americans.”
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