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Biden silent on lack of social distancing, possible ‘super spreader’ celebrations

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Democratic President-elect Joe Biden has not addressed concerns that some celebrations of his projected victory may contribute to the spread of coronavirus after his transition team declared Biden will always “listen to science.”

Thousands of Americans flooded streets of major cities, including New York City, Washington and Philadelphia, to celebrate Biden ahead of his Saturday night victory speech.

While many were wearing masks, the crowds tended to violate social distancing guidelines that have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden had made fighting the coronavirus a central message in his campaign, saying it would be a top priority in his administration. His campaign declined to hold large-scale campaign rallies and criticized President Trump for bringing thousands of people together for rallies.

  • Brittney Hernandez celebrates Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

  • Supporters of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris celebrate in Atlanta on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

  • People dance to music as they celebrate Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump in the presidential election, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

  • People in New York’s Times Square look up at a monitor President-elect Joe Biden addresses the nation, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

  • FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2020, file photo, people gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza to celebrate President-elect Joe Biden’s win over President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

But after footage of the large crowds had been broadcast for hours on major news networks, including Fox News, the former vice president declined to urge people to socially distance.

“Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” Biden said in his speech on Saturday night.

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“On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisors to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that will start on Jan. 20, 2021,” he told the primetime viewing audience. “That plan will be built on bedrock science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern.”

Fox News confirmed Sunday that former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy will be the head of Biden’s transition coronavirus task force. Murthy has been acting as an adviser to the campaign.

The CDC on Sunday said that the U.S. added 93,811 more cases and 1,072 more deaths, bringing the totals to 9,808,411 cases and 236,547 deaths.

Biden’s speech in Wilmington, Delaware, was drive-in style to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus, but photos of impromptu victory celebrations in other cities showed a lack of social distancing.

Conservative commentator Mark Dice posted a video of people packed together and dancing while wearing masks in Boston. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced last week he was increasing coronavirus restrictions after a spike in cases.

“Who knew Joe Biden would put and end to social distancing so soon?” Dice wrote on Twitter.

CNN host Jake Tapper on Saturday acknowledged the risk of the coronavirus while reporting on the celebrations.

“I hate to be a scold here, but we just had the highest day of infections in the United States,” Tapper said. “I believe yesterday was 125,000 Americans with new coronavirus infections. That was the third straight day of more than 100,000 infections. It’s good to see people wearing masks — although for some of them they’re slipping off their face.”

Tapper’s concern of coming across as a “scold,” though, was drastically different than his approach last month when he condemned Trump for holding rallies. The “State of the Union” anchor closed his Oct. 11 show with a diatribe against the president for holding rallies amid the pandemic that Tapper labeled “super spreader” events. 

“[Trump’s] need to hold these rallies apparently exceeding his concern for those attending them,” Tapper told viewers last month. “One of President Trump’s skills during this era has been to behave with so little regard to basic decency, those who try to uphold the standards get accused of being partisan. As if ‘don’t behave in a way that’s reckless and displays a wanton disregard for human life’ is somehow now a partisan issue. It isn’t.”

Tapper then scolded Trump for “reckless behavior” regarding the coronavirus and accused him of indulging his ego at the risk of prolonging the pandemic. 

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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was quick to call out Biden.

“Where is Joe Biden calling on the massive Super Spreader events held in his name to end?” she wrote on Twitter along with video of crowds celebrating outside the White House.

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Fox News’ inquiry to the Biden campaign was not returned at the time of publication.

Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich, Brian Flood, Lucas Manfredi and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.

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