US President-elect Joe Biden has reminded Americans that they were at war with the coronavirus and not against each other, as he called for an end to the "grim season of division" in the country.
In a Thanksgiving address ahead of the holiday, he urged fellow Americans to forgo high-risk holiday traditions, as cases of the virus continue to surge in the US, the worst-hit nation with over 262,100 deaths.
"I know the country's grown weary of the fight. But we need to remember, we're at war with the virus, not with one another. Not with each other.
"This is the moment where we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to the fight," Biden said, speaking from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
"Let's remember: We're all in this together," the 78-year-old Democrat said on Wednesday.
He offered condolences to those who have lost loved ones during the raging pandemic and are struggling around the holidays and spoke about the pain he has felt after members of his own family passed away too soon.
The president-elect vowed that the pandemic would be beaten.
"I believe this grim season of division... is going to give way to a year of light and unity."
He said he knows that this time of year can be especially difficult.
"Believe me, I know," Biden said.
"I remember that first Thanksgiving. The empty chair, the silence. Takes your breath away," he said, apparently referring to the personal tragedies in his own life.
Biden's wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident at Christmas time in 1972, and his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.
"It's really hard to care," Biden said. "It's hard to give thanks. It's hard to even think of looking forward, and it's so hard to hope. I understand. I'll be thinking and praying for each and every one of you at this Thanksgiving."
The Thanksgiving holiday comes as coronavirus cases spike nationwide, bringing the total of deaths in the US up to nearly 260,000 as of Wednesday, and as a fresh wave of public health restrictions have been put in place to control the spread of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last week that Americans should not travel for Thanksgiving.
The country's top infectious disease doctor, Dr Anthony Fauci has also urged Americans to keep their indoor holiday gatherings as "small as you possibly can."
Biden did not mention President Donald Trump, a Republican, by name in his address, saying only, “In America, we have full, free elections. Then we honour the results.”
The former US vice president won the November 3 election over Trump, who is continuing his legal efforts to upend Biden's victory.
Trump has allowed the official start of Biden’s transition to power this week but has not yet conceded defeat.
However, election officials in key battleground states have declared Biden the winner, giving him an unofficial 306-232 edge in the Electoral College that determines the outcome of US presidential contests.
Meanwhile, President Trump urged supporters to work to overturn the results of the election.
Speaking via phone from the White House to an event organised by Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania, Trump repeated unsubstantiated claims about widespread electoral fraud.
"We have to turn the election over," Trump said, adding that it was "rigged".
Trump's efforts to challenge the results in key states in courts have so far failed.