The Latest: Housing Secretary Ben Carson positive for virus

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President-elect Joe Biden listens during a meeting with his COVID-19 advisory council, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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

12:50 p.m.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has tested positive for the coronavirus. Carson is the first member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet known to have tested positive.

The department’s deputy chief of staff, Coalter Baker, said Monday that Carson is “in good spirits and feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery.”

The 69-year-old Carson is among several top Trump administration officials who attended last week’s election night party at the White House. Carson has been a steadfast surrogate for the Republican president, traveling to many of the swing states before Election Day to discuss the administration’s priorities and achievements. Carson attended several events Trump held to appeal to African American voters.

Before joining the Trump administration, Carson had sought the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016. He served for nearly 30 years as director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

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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 is cheering news about the promising development of a coronavirus vaccine but cautioning Americans need to be aggressive about mask wearing and social distancing.

Read more:

— Trump faces calls to work with Biden team on transition

— Members of President-elect Biden’s coronavirus task force

— Referendum on Trump shatters turnout records

— For Biden, how to help mangled economy is next obstacle

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:

12:15 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is imploring Americans to “wear a mask” to help fight the spread of the coronavirus — “no matter who you voted for.”

He says, “We are Americans, and our country is under threat.”

The Democrat said Monday wearing masks could slow the death toll in the COVID-19 pandemic, which he noted could climb by 200,000 before a vaccine is widely available.

Biden said, “Please, I implore you, wear a mask.” He noted masks could save the lives of older people, children and teachers and added: “It could even save your own life.”

Biden notes that he doesn’t take office until Jan. 20 but is assuming a public leadership role in the fight against the pandemic ahead of being sworn in.

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12:05 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is warning the United States is “still facing a very dark winter” as he unveils plans for addressing COVID-19 pandemic.

Even as hopes of a vaccine lifted stocks, Biden said Monday another 200,000 lives could be lost before it is widely available. Biden implores Americans to “wear a mask.”

Biden says he would be guided by science in laying out the framework of a pandemic response, starting with members of a task force to prepare for his administration’s transition to overseeing it.

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11:20 a.m.

One week after Election Day, Vice President Mike Pence appears ready to take some time off.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Pence is scheduled to travel to Sanibel, Florida, Tuesday through Saturday. Pence has vacationed on the island along Florida’s Gulf Coast several times previously. Pence’s office didn’t immediately comment on the trip on Monday.

The trip comes as President Donald Trump has pledged to continue trying to contest the outcome of the election and as President-elect Joe Biden is ramping up his transition efforts.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are being briefed virtually on the coronavirus pandemic by a task force of experts their transition team announced Monday.

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11:10 a.m.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are being briefed virtually on the coronavirus pandemic by a task force of experts their transition team announced only hours earlier.

The Democratic president-elect and vice president-elect sat at separate, individual socially distanced tables and took notes as the members introduced themselves on Monday.

Biden is also planning to give a speech on his planned response to the pandemic. Then Biden and Harris will hold hours of internal meetings about transitioning to the White House in January.

The task force briefing was at the Queen, a theater in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden’s campaign built a studio and other communications infrastructure and has spent months organizing virtual meetings and speeches.

The first to speak during the briefing was former Food Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler. He is co-chairing the task force with former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associate professor and associate dean whose research focuses on promoting health care equality for marginalized populations.

Also part of the group is Rick Bright, a whistleblower who was demoted after criticizing the Trump administration’s pandemic response. Bright had been head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Journalists could watch only about two minutes of the proceedings and heard only the participants introducing themselves.

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7:25 a.m.

President-elect Joe Biden has announced the members of his coronavirus task force, which will put together a blueprint for fighting the pandemic.

The co-chairs are former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Food Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University professor and researcher.

Notable among the task force members is Rick Bright, a vaccine expert and former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint alleging he was reassigned to a lesser job because he resisted political pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug pushed by President Donald Trump as a COVID-19 treatment.

Other members include Luciana Borio, a biodefense specialist; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and bioethics chair at the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Atul Gawande, a Clinton administration health advisor and surgery expert; Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert who has studied HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis; Dr. Julie Morita, a pediatric and immunization specialist; Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist; Loyce Pace, a global health specialist; Dr. Robert Rodriguez, an emergency medicine expert who has researched mental health of COVID-19 responders; and Dr. Eric Goosby, an infectious disease expert who has worked in AIDS/HIV.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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