The Latest: Biden gives dire virus warning for next 2 months

AP Political

President-elect Joe Biden speaks as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris listens at left, during an event to introduce their nominees and appointees to economic policy posts at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden has issued a dire warning about the spread of the coronavirus over the next two months, predicting as many as 250,000 deaths.

Biden, who has warned of a “dark winter” ahead, did not offer details to back up his assessment, which is far bleaker than projections by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts. His transition team did not immediately respond to a request to clarify the remarks.

Biden made the remarks Wednesday in a livestreamed roundtable with workers affected by the pandemic, making an appeal to Americans to take the virus seriously.

“We’re likely to lose another 250,000 people dead between now and January,” Biden said. “You hear me? Because people aren’t paying attention.”

He added: “You cannot be traveling during these holidays, as much as you want to.”

Already, more than 272,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus this year.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN’S TRANSITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE:

President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks are quickly running into the political reality of a narrowly controlled Senate that will leave the new Democratic administration dependent on rival Republicans to get anything done.

Read more:

— Ron Klain brings decades of DC experience to Biden White House

— Trump threatens defense veto over social media protections

— Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud

— Senate GOP leader sticking with partisan COVID-19 relief plan

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

9:25 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says he won’t immediately lift tariffs placed by President Donald Trump on many imports from China or break Trump’s initial trade deal.

Biden says he wants to maximize his leverage in future talks with the United States’ geopolitical rival.

Speaking to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Biden said, “I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs.” Biden adds in Friedman’s column published Wednesday: “I’m not going to prejudice my options.”

Under Trump, the U.S. and China engaged in a yearlong trade war that has been largely frozen since a Phase One deal was reached in January. While some industries have benefited from Trump’s protectionist policies, the policies have been largely panned by the business community and most experts — and most of the cost of tariffs has been borne by American businesses and consumers.

Biden tells Friedman an early priority after his January swearing-in will be to restore relationships with allies to strengthen his negotiating position with China. Biden says key to talks with China is “leverage” and in his view “we don’t have it yet.”

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