Biden says 'our darkest days' in battling Covid-19 'are ahead of us'
Posted December 22, 2020 2:24 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2020 3:31 p.m. EST
CNN — President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday said the "darkest days" in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic "are ahead of us, not behind us," and urged Americans to prepare themselves for the struggle.
"One thing I promise you about my leadership during this crisis: I'm going to tell it to you straight. I'm going to tell you the truth. And here's the simple truth: Our darkest days in the battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us," Biden said in remarks in Wilmington, Delaware.
"So we need to prepare ourselves, to steel our spines," the President-elect continued. "As frustrating as it is to hear, it's going to take patience, 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."
Biden said that in addition to acting swiftly to provide more economic relief and support to Americans, his administration will urgently address the recent massive cyberattack on US companies and federal government agencies.
"There's still so much we don't know, including the full scope of the breach or the extent of the damage it has caused. But we know this much: This attack constitutes a grave risk to our national security," Biden said.
"The Trump administration failed to prioritize cybersecurity," he said. He criticized President Donald Trump for downplaying the cyberattack and contradicting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's public remarks linking the hack to Russia.
Biden said the Trump administration needs to "make an official attribution."
"This assault happened on Donald Trump's watch when he wasn't watching. It's still his responsibility as President to defend American interests for the next four weeks," Biden said.
Amid the holiday season and ahead of Christmas, he said, "this season of reflection carries a much deeper meaning than it usually does."
Biden said it has been "one of the toughest years we've ever faced as a nation," pointing to the pandemic, the economic crisis, protests against racial injustice and historic wildfires and storms.
Biden thanked all of those involved in the development and distribution of coronavirus vaccines, front-line health care workers, and deployed members of the military and their families.
"Our hearts go out to all of you who have fallen on hard times -- through no fault of your own, I might add -- unable to sleep at night, way down with the worry of what tomorrow will bring to you and for your family," he said.
He spoke about how, like many other Americans, he is heeding the advice of public health experts and forgoing holiday traditions.
"Like we did over Thanksgiving, we all have to care enough for each other that we have to stay apart just a little bit longer. I know it's hard," Biden said.
This is expected to be the President-elect's last formal appearance before Christmas, and Biden is planning to remain at his home near Wilmington through the holiday.
The speech comes amid a holiday season in which Americans have been advised by public health experts to not travel or gather in large groups, as coronavirus cases spike and the death toll rises across the country.
It comes one day after Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on live national television and reassured Americans of the vaccine's safety.
"There's nothing to worry about," Biden said, urging Americans to receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them.
Health care workers and others have started being administered the two Covid-19 vaccines -- the other developed by Moderna -- that were recently given emergency authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration. More than 319,000 Americans have died from the virus as of Tuesday afternoon.
The President-elect's remarks come the day after Congress voted to approve a far-reaching $900 billion Covid relief package that promises to accelerate vaccine distribution and deliver much-needed aid to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Americans who have lost their jobs during the economic upheaval and frontline health care workers.
Biden has said that while immediate funding is critical, when he takes office in January, his administration will take additional action to support Americans, businesses, and fund the vaccine distribution efforts.
The President-elect has moved swiftly to build out his administration, and only has a few spots in his Cabinet left to announce. One of the most high-profile positions in his incoming administration is attorney general, and Biden is no longer expected to make that announcement before Christmas, according to a person familiar with the matter.