There was nothing surprising about Joe Biden’s speech to the nation on coronavirus. Yet it felt refreshing in its predictability. You could almost hear America breathing a collective sigh of relief.
It was the country’s clearest message yet on wearing a face mask and it came from a small theatre in Wilmington, not the White House.
Joe Biden’s go-to venue for holding meetings and recording messages was surrounded by police, secret service agents and armoured SUVs. Very different scenes for the people of Wilmington and a very different tone on handling the pandemic for the American people.
“Please, I implore you, wear a mask.” Joe Biden’s address to the nation was a plea.
The tone was dramatically different to Donald Trump who has repeatedly claimed the virus will disappear and politicised face masks very early on in the pandemic. In doing so Mr Trump lost a powerful weapon in bringing the crisis under control and reopening the economy.
Mr Biden, on the other hand, put face coverings at the centre of a plea for unity.
“A mask is not a political statement, but it is a good way of pulling the country together,” he said.
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“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 won’t be forever but that’s how we get our nation back – back up to speed economically – so we can go back to celebrating birthdays and holidays together.”
Joe Biden’s first Monday as president-elect was spent holding a virtual meeting with his new coronavirus task force. It sent a clear message he was wasting no time in getting to work – a clear message the transition of power is pressing ahead with or without Donald Trump’s consensus – and the pandemic is Joe Biden’s central focus.
While he welcomed the news that Pfizer’s vaccine is looking so encouraging, the president-elect warned there were still many tough months ahead. A new sign on the door of a Wilmington pharmacy “COVID-19 vaccine not yet available” still somehow offers a light at the end of a dark year for America.
Donald Trump junior was sceptical about the vaccine announcement tweeting: “The timing of this is pretty amazing. Nothing nefarious about the timing of this at all right?”
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has poured water on the claim that their news was in any way political – the data is said to only have become available now.
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While the country has been distracted by a contentious presidential election, the coronavirus crisis has broken new records and has now passed the grim milestone of ten million confirmed cases.
Joe Biden won’t formally enter the White House until 20 January and tens of thousands more Americans are expected to lose their lives to the virus before then.
While Donald Trump still shows no sign of acknowledging defeat in this election, Mr Biden is making it clear to the American public how he plans to steer the country through its worst crisis since World War Two.