President-elect Joe Biden on Monday pleaded with Americans to wear masks, kicking off his presidential transition with a message declaring the practice the most effective tool to control the Covid-19 pandemic until a vaccine is distributed.
Biden, in his first public remarks since his Saturday night victory speech, also tied mask-wearing, which can stem the spread of Covid-19, to his campaign message of unity.
“It doesn't matter who you voted for, where you stood before Election Day. It doesn't matter your party, your point of view, we can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democrat or Republican lives, American lives,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware.
“Please, I implore you, wear a mask,” he added. “A mask is not a political statement, but it is a way to start pulling the country together.”
“The goal of mask-wearing is not to make you less comfortable, or take something away from you. It's to give something back to all of us, a normal life,” Biden said. “The goal is to get back to normal as fast as possible. Masks are critical in doing that. It won't be forever, but that's how we'll get our nation back.”
Biden ran on promises to unite the country and to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which had, as of Monday afternoon, killed nearly 240,000 people in the U.S.
Biden’s remarks — which came two days he was projected to win the presidency — demonstrate he is marking the kick-off of his presidential transition with the fight against Covid-19. Earlier Monday, he announced his Covid-19 task force, led by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former FDA Commissioner David Kessler and Yale University professor Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.
Confirmed coronavirus cases are on the rise again in many parts of the U.S. — a fact that Biden referred to as proof that “the worst wave yet in this pandemic” was underway and that the country was facing a “very dark winter.”
Biden, during his remarks Monday, also reiterated his calls for any approved vaccines to be distributed “equitably and efficiently and free for every American” and for the ramping up of production of more personal protective equipment for health care and other front-line workers.
Earlier Monday, the drug company Pfizer announced that an early analysis showed its vaccine candidate for Covid-19 was more than 90 percent effective at preventing infection. Biden called the development "positive" but cautioned that the reviews and approvals now needed to bring the vaccine to market must be "grounded in science and fully transparent so the American people can have every confidence that any approved vaccine is safe and effective."
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com.