President-elect Joe Biden is sharing details about how he plans to encourage Americans to wear masks once he is sworn as president.
While Biden has said he would like to see a national mask mandate implemented, it is unclear if he would have the authority to issue one. However, he says he plans to ask Americans to voluntarily wear masks once he is sworn in.
“It is important that we, in fact, the president and the vice president, we set the pattern by wearing masks. But beyond that, where the federal government has authority, I’m going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings, you have to be masked,” Biden said during an interview on CNN on Thursday.
He also listed air travel and buses as examples of interstate transportation where he believes the federal government has the authority to require people to wear masks.
“My inclination is on the first day I’m inaugurated, I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask — just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days,” he said.
He added, “And I think we’ll see a significant reduction that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably.”
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Last month, Biden pleaded with Americans to wear masks to help curb the spread of the virus. He said, “Please, I implore you, wear a mask. Do it for yourself. Do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement, but it is a good way to start pulling the country together.”
“The goal is to get back to normal as fast as possible. And masks are critical in doing that. It won’t be forever, but that’s how we’ll get our nation back,” he added.
Biden’s comments come as the country is seeing a disturbing spike in new infections. On Wednesday, the country added 199,988 new cases and set a new record for its daily death toll, with 2,885 deaths recorded.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said he believes the country’s death toll from the virus could reach 450,000 by February 2021, as IJR reported.
The new surge comes as Pfizer and Moderna have announced that their coronavirus vaccine trials are more than 90% effective in preventing the virus. However, health experts say it will likely be months until a vaccine is approved and widely available for most Americans to take.
Biden and former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton have said they would be willing to take a Covid vaccine once scientists say it is safe to boost confidence in it and encourage Americans to get vaccinated.