‘Hang on!’: Biden urges Americans to avoid big Thanksgiving, wait for vaccine

US president-elect Joe Biden renewed his call to Americans to “hang on!”, mask up and limit social gatherings until the coronavirus vaccine is available at population scale.

“We have to try to slow the growth of the virus. We owe that to the doctors, the nurses, and the other front-line health care workers who have risked so much and heroically battled this virus for so long,” Biden said in his Thanksgiving message to the nation ahead of a long weekend that traditionally features large family gatherings and a burst of cross country travel.

Biden promised to “change the course of the disease” soon after his inauguration, on January 20, 2021.

“More testing will find people with cases and get them away from other people, slowing the number of infections. More protective gear for businesses and schools will do the same – reducing the number of cases. Clear guidance will get more businesses and more schools open,” he said.

Biden struck an upbeat tone despite the looming crisis of a “dark winter” that medical experts have warned about. “There is real hope, tangible hope. So hang on. Don’t let yourself surrender to the fatigue,” Biden urged Americans as daily cases and deaths shattered records.

“I know we can and we will beat this virus. America is not going to lose this war. You will get your lives back. Life is going to return to normal. That will happen. This will not last forever,” he said.

Biden noted that in his own family, a big Thanksgiving is off the table because of the pandemic.

By the time Biden spoke on Wednesday afternoon, more than 4 million people had already passed through airport checkpoints starting last Friday.

Hospitals in multiple states are at capacity and doctors are preparing for the worst spike in cases all year, post Thanksgiving. America leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths.