Kamala Harris urges public to ‘celebrate with us virtually’ at inauguration

EXCLUSIVE: The historic nature of Harris being elected vice president will not be celebrated as in years past due to COVID-19

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is mindful of the sacrifices the public has taken during the COVID-19 pandemic but their health and well-being come first. In an exclusive interview with theGrio, Harris asked for that continued spirit as the virus continues to spread.

The historic nature of Harris’ election to be the second in command will not be celebrated with the usual pomp and circumstance due to the pandemic. The Howard University alum and AKA will be the first of many: woman, Black woman, Asian descent, and HBCU graduate to be vice president.

Read More: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris named TIME’s 2020 Person of the Year

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden And Running Mate Kamala Harris Get Briefed On Coronavirus
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Americans were determined to see Harris’s history-making moment on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C. — some of whom were already reserving AirBnB rentals.

“I can’t tell a lie. I’m very impressed and very humbled. And I want them to be safe and I want us to know that we don’t have so much to do together. And in order for that to happen, I want people to be safe. And that’s why we’re building up the plan for the inauguration in a way that it will sadly not be in a way like it’s been in the past,” Harris said.

Read More: Biden inauguration expected to be downsized from prior years amid pandemic

“But the reason for that is so that people could be safe. We are going to have so many opportunities to celebrate once we get through this pandemic. But right now, I want to ask people to celebrate with us virtually.”

Despite there being COVID-19 vaccines, the airborne virus has not abated. The New York Times reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a lockdown on London as a new variant of the virus was aggressively spreading at a faster rate than the coronavirus. The mutation of the airborne disease is causing stricter guidelines, but Harris said that the incoming administration would not bring a halt to the United States.

Biden Harris thegrio.com
President-elect Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and husband Doug Emhoff wave to crowd on stage after Biden’s address to the nation. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Read More: Black health professionals sound the alarm on second wave of COVID-19

“I’m not going to second guess the decision of foreign leaders, but I can speak for what we intend to do and we’ve been very clear that we have no intention to shut down the country, but we do have an intention to shut down the virus,” Harris told theGrio.

Harris is aware of the sacrifices that many in this country are taking, which include being separated from their families.

“Now is the time for us to sacrifice a bit in the spirit of love thy neighbor. And that is how the president-elect and I are approaching this. We are pleading and encouraging and challenging folks that in a time of crisis, it is the kind of collective sacrifice. And even though none a lot of us like wearing a mask let’s wear a mask as the president-elect has said, the first 100 days of our administration, take that pledge.”

She continued, “There’s no punishment. It’s a plea. It’s not a punishment. Let’s all rise to this moment and fight this virus so we can get beyond it.”

President-elect Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will be publicly taking the COVID-19 vaccine next week. Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff will follow after shortly in a measure to demonstrate its potency.

Read More: Black health professionals sound the alarm on second wave of COVID-19

“I want to encourage everyone to do everything that we possibly can to be healthy and to be safe and we will be publicly taking this vaccine to encourage people to know that when they are able to take it, they should [and] they must,” the vice-president-elect said.

“It is a really simple point. It will save lives.”

theGrio‘s Stephanie Guerilus contributed to this report.

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