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On Covid-19, Biden lays out a clear plan — and a contrast with Trump

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes off his face mask as he arrives to speak, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden takes off his face mask as he arrives to speak, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.Carolyn Kaster / AP file

WASHINGTON — For a second-straight day, nearly 3,000 Americans died from the coronavirus on Thursday.

Also for a second-straight day, yesterday saw another 200,000 new confirmed cases.

Amid that backdrop, President-elect Biden laid out his plans and priorities to combat the pandemic in his first months as president — as a vaccine starts to become available to the public.

More money for businesses and the health care system: “These hospital stays are overwhelming hospitals right now. There's a need for more financial assistance,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.

More money to distribute the vaccine: “When I met with the Republican and Democratic governors and mayors, they said, we need help on how to [distribute it],” Biden added in the interview. “One was certain they would be able to do it in their state: ‘Just get me the vaccine. I can do it.’ But it's an incredibly expensive proposition, incredibly expensive proposition.”

More money to reopen schools: “We can make it safe for teachers if we invest in what needs to be done. No. 1, sanitizing the schools; No. 2, making sure that they have ventilation; No. 3, making sure there are smaller pods of children, meaning you need more teachers. You've got to pay for this stuff.’

Convincing the public to take the vaccine: “Once it's declared to be safe, and I think Barack said, once Fauci says it's [safe] — that's my measure — then, obviously, we take it. And it's important to communicate to the American people it's safe; it's safe to do this."

And asking every American to wear a mask for 100 days: “I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask, just 100 days to mask, not forever, 100 days.”

Biden’s contrast with President Trump couldn’t be clearer.

On Wednesday, Trump delivered a 46-minute talk disputing the results of 2020 election — with almost no mention of the pandemic.

On Thursday, Biden asked every American to wear a mask for 100 days.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

14,206,762: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 198,854 more than yesterday morning.)

276,874: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 2,563 more than yesterday morning.)

197.41 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

100,667: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus

6,873,865: Joe Biden’s lead in the popular vote at the time of publication

$495 million: How much Trump’s campaign has raised since mid-October, including from his post-election fraud-claim blitz.

32: The number of days until the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.

47: The number of days until Inauguration Day.

Is a Covid-relief deal finally in sight?

“Lawmakers are growing optimistic about a coronavirus relief deal as party leaders came together Thursday on a price tag after months of stalemate gave way to meaningful negotiations,” NBC’s Sahil Kapur writes.

“But lingering policy disputes remain, and leaders still hope to combine the Covid-19 relief into a government funding bill by the Dec. 11 deadline to avert a shutdown. The emerging package includes more unemployment aid but excludes another round of $1,200 direct payments.”

Biden names his top economic adviser

Biden on Thursday announced that Brian Deese — who helped manage the auto bailout and negotiate the Paris climate deal during Barack Obama’s presidency — will head his National Economic Council.

Biden Cabinet/Transition Watch

State: Tony Blinken (announced)

Treasury: Janet Yellen (announced)

Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas (announced)

UN Ambassador: Linda Thomas-Greenfield (announced)

Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines (announced)

Defense: Michèle Flournoy, Jeh Johnson, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Rt. Gen. Lloyd Austin

Attorney General: Doug Jones, Xavier Becerra, Sally Yates

HHS: Vivek Murthy, California Rep. Karen Bass, California Rep. Raul Ruiz

Interior: Deb Haaland

Agriculture: Heidi Heitkamp

Labor: Andy Levin, Bernie Sanders, Marty Walsh

Education: Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Randi Weingarten. Sonja Santelises, Linda Darling Hammond

OMB Director: Neera Tanden (announced)

CIA: Michael Morell

Small Business Administration: Keisha Lance Bottoms

Covid-19 Czar: Jeff Zients

Chief of Staff: Ron Klain (announced)

National Security Adviser: Jake Sullivan (announced)

Climate Envoy: John Kerry (announced)

National Economic Council Director: Brian Deese (announced)

White House Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield (announced)

White House Press Secretary: Jen Psaki (announced)

VP Communications Director: Ashley Etienne (announced)

VP Chief Spokesperson: Symone Sanders (announced)

Georgia Runoff Watch by Ben Kamisar

In today’s Runoff Watch, the parties are pulling out all the stops this weekend for some big special guests.

For the Democrats, former President Obama today joins his party’s Senate hopefuls for a virtual GOTV rally with Stacey Abrams.

On the GOP side, Vice President Pence kicks off the big weekend for Georgia Republicans with a rally in Savannah Friday before Trump’s Saturday rally.

For all the questions about whether Trump’s Ill-fated quest to overturn the election will again cost Republicans at the polls, the GOP appears excited to get the president down there to marshal his supporters toward the GOP cause.

But as recently as last night, Trump tweeted that the “best way” to ensure a GOP victory in the runoff would be for Georgia to relitigate the election results yet again.

The Lid: Super Grover!

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we asked why people are suddenly talking about… Grover Cleveland?

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Who will get the vaccine first? States are still working on their plans.

A history of systemic racism in medicine is complicating the vaccine rollout.

Biden is starting to name his top health officials.

Austin’s mayor has apologized for taking a trip to Mexico while urging Texans to stay home.

Congress is moving closer to passing legislation for a national Latino museum.

It sure sounds like David Perdue is acknowledging Biden’s win – at least behind the scenes.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court won’t hear a Trump election case.