Biden Says He’ll Ask All Americans to Wear Masks for 100 Days
A person wears a “Biden Harris 2020” protective mask in Washington. (Photographer: Erin Scott/Bloomberg)

Biden Says He’ll Ask All Americans to Wear Masks for 100 Days

President-elect Joe Biden said he would ask all Americans to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for the first 100 days of his administration as well as issue a “standing order” requiring face coverings in federal buildings and interstate transportation.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Biden also said that he had spoken to Dr. Anthony Fauci and asked him to stay on as the government’s top infectious disease expert.

Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a role he’s held since the Reagan administration. But Biden suggested that Fauci would have an even bigger voice in his administration, advising the president directly.

“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team,” Biden said. He pointed out that his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, had worked closely with Fauci during the Ebola crisis beginning in 2014.

Biden said he would order mask use “where the federal government has authority.” And he said he would call for all Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

“Not forever, for 100 days,” he said. “And I think we’ll see a significant reduction” in infections.

Biden’s preview of a more robust response to the coronavirus pandemic came as he spoke about the role of the president and vice president in setting a personal example — drawing an implicit contrast with President Donald Trump, who has often eschewed wearing a mask in public and mocked Biden for wearing one. The White House has also announced that it would continue to host holiday parties this year in smaller groups, even as Covid cases and deaths break single-day records.

Biden said he would follow the lead of three of his predecessors — presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — who have volunteered to publicly get a Covid-19 vaccine to encourage others to do so.

“I’d be happy to do that. When Dr. Fauci says we have a vaccine that is safe, that’s the moment I will stand before the public,” he said.

“People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work. Already the numbers are really staggeringly low. And it matters what a president and a vice president do,” Biden said. “And it’s important to communicate to the American people it’s safe. It’s safe to do this.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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