He doesn’t have the authority to order a nationwide mask mandate, but Biden could pressure states and local governments.
President-elect Joe Biden plans to urge all Americans to wear face masks for his first 100 days in office to help end the coronavirus pandemic.
While he did not explicitly call it a national mask mandate, Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper he seeks “just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction.”
Diagnosed cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are at their height as the U.S. braces for three months of what CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield called “the most difficult in public health history.”
Biden does not have the constitutional authority to order a nationwide mask mandate; however, he could pressure states and local governments to do so through federal funding.
The president-elect’s position is markedly different from that of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has shunned donning masks since the beginning of the pandemic, even despite his own bout with coronavirus.
Trump’s politicization of mask-wearing has been identified as one reason the virus has continued to spread, particularly with rising infections and death rates in red states like North Dakota and South Dakota.
Biden has frequently called wearing a face mask “a patriotic duty.”
In his joint CNN interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Biden also called on Congress to pass a coronavirus aid bill. He noted that the $900 billion compromise package recently introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would be a “good start.”
“It’s not enough,” he added. “I’m going to need to ask for more help.”
Biden also made it clear he’s asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his role as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He also asked Fauci to be a “chief medical adviser” and a member of his COVID-19 advisory team.
“I said yes right on the spot,” Fauci said this morning on NBC’s Today show.
When Dr. Fauci says a coronavirus vaccine is safe for all Americans and approved, Biden said, the former vice president will join three of his presidential peers — ex-commanders-in-chief Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — in being inoculated on camera.
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