BOSTON – Update (11:20 a.m.):
President-elect Joe Biden is warning the United States is “still facing a very dark winter” as he unveils plans for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even as hopes of a vaccine lifted stocks, Biden said Monday another 200,000 lives could be lost before it is widely available. Biden implores Americans to “wear a mask.”
Biden says he would be guided by science in laying out the framework of a pandemic response, starting with members of a task force to prepare for his administration’s transition to overseeing it.
Read the latest: Biden pleads ‘wear a mask’ to fight virus threat
President-elect Joe Biden will deliver remarks after a briefing from the coronavirus advisory board on Monday morning.
Biden, who hours ago announced his COVID-task force, is expected to speak at 10:30 a.m. out of Wilmington, Delaware. His remarks will be livestreamed in this article, but delays are possible. If there is not a livestream available, check back at a later time.
As he begins his transition to the presidency, Biden is pivoting from a bitter campaign battle to another, more pressing fight: reining in the pandemic that has hit the world’s most powerful nation harder than any other.
On Monday, Biden announced the members of his coronavirus task force that will develop a blueprint for fighting the pandemic. It includes doctors and scientists who have served in previous administrations, many of them experts in public health, vaccines and infectious diseases.
Notable among the members is Rick Bright, a vaccine expert and former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. He had filed a whistleblower complaint alleging he was reassigned to a lesser job because he resisted political pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug pushed by President Donald Trump as a COVID-19 treatment.
Public health officials warn that the nation is entering the worst stretch yet for COVID-19 as winter sets in and the holiday season approaches, increasing the risk of rapid transmission as Americans travel, shop and celebrate with loved ones.
“The next two months are going to be rough, difficult ones,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist and department chairman at the Yale School of Public Health. “We could see another 100,000 deaths by January.”
The U.S. is now averaging more than 100,000 new coronavirus infections a day, frequently breaking records for daily cases. Hospitals in several states are running out of space and staff, and the death toll is soaring. So far, the U.S. has recorded more than 9.8 million infections and more than 237,000 deaths from COVID-19.
“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement Monday.