President elect Joe Biden has urged Americans to wear a mask – saying the face coverings are “not a political statement”.
Biden said he would “spare no effort” to turn the pandemic around when he is sworn into office in January.
In a speech on the virus, which has killed 238,000 Americans, Biden said: “I implore you, wear a mask. Do it for yourself. Do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement.
“It doesn’t matter who you voted for, where you stood before election day…we can save tens of thousands of lives if everybody just wears a mask.
“We are Americans and our country is under threat.”
He also urged Americans to “rise above our differences” and come together in the fight against coronavirus.
On the announcement of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech appearing to be 90% effective at fighting the virus, Biden said it was “excellent news”.
He said: “I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.”
But he added: “At the same time, it is also important to understand that the end of the battle against Covid-19 is still months away.”
His words come after it was speculated Biden plans to dismantle Donald Trump’s toxic legacy by immediately scrapping some of the Republican’s worst policies.
The 77-year-old Democrat and his transition team are plotting his first moves and he is expected to take swift action by signing a series of executive orders after he is sworn in on January 20.
Biden’s top priority is likely to be the Covid-19 pandemic after Trump mishandled and downplayed a virus that has killed almost 240,000 Americans, the highest death toll of any country, and infected 10 million.
America’s 46th president is setting up his own coronavirus task force, and when he takes over the White House he is expected to implement a range of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
Biden is also expected to undo Trump’s controversial policies on coronavirus, immigration, climate change and women’s rights as he assumes control of a divided America.