US President-elect Joe Biden has appealed for unity in a Thanksgiving-eve address to the nation.
Mr Biden asked Americans to “steel our spines” for a fight against coronavirus that he predicted would continue for months.
But even as he implored Americans to join in healing and common purpose, outgoing US President Donald Trump asserted that the election should be overturned, a futile call but one that stokes the divisions Mr Biden is trying to overcome.
With Covid-19 cases surging nationwide, Mr Biden called on Americans to take precautions to try to stem the tide of the virus, by wearing masks and practising social distancing. While he said the federal government has “vast powers” to combat the virus, he added that “the federal government can’t do it alone”.
“Each of us has a responsibility in our own lives to do what we can to slow the virus,” he said in remarks in Wilmington.
Mr Biden said that, until there is a vaccine, wearing masks, social distancing and limiting the size of gatherings “are our most effective tools to combat the virus”.
But he pledged that from the start of his presidency, “we will take steps that will change the course of the disease”, including increasing testing, providing more protective gear and clearer guidance for businesses and schools to reopen.
And he said that he himself was taking precautions around Thanksgiving and eschewing his traditional large family gathering, instead spending the holiday with just his wife, daughter and son-in-law.
Mr Biden said: “This is the moment when we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to this fight. We’re all in this together.”
But Mr Trump stoked the embers of his flailing effort to upend the election results as his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and other members of his legal team met Pennsylvania Republican state senators in Gettysburg. There, they again aired grievances about the election and repeated allegations of Democratic malfeasance that have already disintegrated under examination by courts.
Mr Trump joined the meeting from the Oval Office, asserting: “This was an election that we won easily. We won it by a lot.”
In fact the election gave Mr Biden a clear mandate and no systemic fraud has been uncovered.
In his remarks in Wilmington, Mr Biden made passing reference to Mr Trump’s refusal to concede, declaring “our democracy was tested this year” but “the people of this nation are up to the task”.
He said: “In America, we have full and fair and free elections, and then we honour the results. The people of this nation and the laws of the land won’t stand for anything else.”
He also offered an optimistic vision, calling on Americans to “dream again” and predicting that “the 21st century is going to be an American century”.
Mr Biden’s remarks came as Covid-19 cases are surging nationwide. Hospital admissions, deaths and the testing positivity rate were also up sharply as the nation approached Thanksgiving, and public health experts have warned that the large family gatherings expected for the holiday are likely to extend and exacerbate the surge.