President-elect Joe Biden on Monday said he cut relatives from his Thanksgiving invite list due to the COVID-19 pandemic — as he confirmed he’s now willing to take vaccines nearing approval.
Biden urged Americans also to join him in shrinking their guest lists to 10 people or fewer in compliance with federal pandemic health guidance.
“Jill and I spent this morning, like many of you, trying to figure out what are we going to do for Thanksgiving? How are we going to do it? And we’ve narrowed down which family members and that they were tested — recently tested in 24 hours,” he said in answer to a reporter’s question after delivering a speech on the economy in Delaware.
The former vice president, who turns 78 six days before the holiday, has two living children, including scandal-ridden son Hunter, and seven grandchildren.
The president-elect also said he is now ready for a vaccine following promising reports on clinical trials. He previously would not comment on taking a vaccine approved under President Trump, but told reporters Monday he’s now prepared to be inoculated after drug companies Moderna and Pfizer reported greater than 90 percent effectiveness for candidate vaccines.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine if in fact Dr. Fauci and these two organizations — whether it’s Moderna or Pfizer, which have been extremely responsible — conclude that it is safe and able to be done,” Biden said.
“The scientific community have focused on these two vaccines, they appear to be ready for primetime, ready to be used. And if that continues along those road, I would take the vaccine.”
Trump has not conceded the presidential election as his campaign pursues recounts and litigation in swing states where Biden is ahead in unofficial results, including Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
And Biden gave conflicting accounts of whether Trump’s refusal to begin a transition will have serious effects.
At first, Biden said, “more people may die if we don’t coordinate.”
He said moments later: “I find this more embarrassing to the country than debilitating for my ability to get started.”
Biden faced relatively cordial questioning from reporters after arriving 88 minutes late to the press conference. He stood behind a podium that said, “Office of the President Elect” and spoke after a short introduction from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Earlier Monday, Biden and Harris hosted a Zoom call on economic policy with business and union leaders — including leaders from Target, Microsoft, General Motors and GAP and from the unions SEIU, UAW, UFCW, AFSCME and AFL-CIO.
Biden also called on Congress to pass new pandemic relief legislation after months of gridlock between the Democrat-held House and the Republican-led Senate, who differ on the size of legislation and proposed aid for state governments.
“Right now Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago,” Biden said, though that bill remains a long-shot with partisan control of Congress unchanged.
The gaffe-prone president-elect said he also wanted to pass infrastructure legislation following the pandemic that would help “communities of colors [sic].”
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Biden praised Republican governors who have made mask-wearing in public mandatory and urged people planning for Thanksgiving to think about relatives who could catch the virus.
“I just want o make sure that we’re able to be together next Thanksgiving, next Christmas,” he said.