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President-elect Joe Biden calls for unity during Thanksgiving address

Parishioners sit in folding chairs with candles, listening to prayers outside of the St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Ladue, Mo., on December 24. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 25 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden called for unity and encouraged Americans to stay vigilant against the COVID-19 pandemic during a Thanksgiving address Wednesday afternoon.

"Faith, courage, sacrifice, service to country, service to each other and gratitude even in the face of suffering have long been part of what Thanksgiving means in America," Biden said, adding that the soul of the nation has been forged through difficult circumstances.

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He acknowledged the difficulties Americans are facing during the pandemic.

"I know the country has grown weary of the fight," he said. "We need to remember that we're at war with the virus, not one another."

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U.S. health officials are advising against typical holiday travel due to significant rises in coronavirus cases and deaths nationwide.

Nearly 173,000 new COVID-19 cases and 2,100 deaths were reported nationally Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"We have to try to slow the growth of this virus," Biden said, acknowledging the doctors, nurses and frontline workers who have lost their lives during the pandemic.

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"It's literally our patriotic duty as Americans. It means wearing a mask, keeping social distancing, limiting the size of any group we're in. Until we have a vaccine, these are the most effective tools to combat the virus."

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He promised to take steps to combat the disease once in office, including increasing testing, protective gear and guidance to get more businesses and schools open, and he called on Americans to do their part.

"I know we can and we will beat this virus," he said. "America is not going to lose this war. We'll get our lives back."

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He reinforced his message of unity and called voting the "noblest instrument of nonviolent protest ever conceived."

"I believe this grim season of division and demonization is going to give way to a year of light and unity," he said.

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