Biden will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his presidencyDecember 4, 2020
- President-elect Joe Biden plans to ask Americans to wear masks in public spaces for the first 100 days of his presidency, he told CNN Thursday.
- This would lead to a "significant reduction" in COVID-19 cases, he said.
- As president, Biden could not demand that people wear masks — but he plans to issue a standing order mandating masks in federal buildings and on public transport.
- Biden added that it won't be necessary to "close down the economy" if the government has clear guidance in place.
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President-elect Joe Biden plans to ask Americans to wear masks in public spaces for the first 100 days of his presidency, he told CNN Thursday.
"Just 100 days to mask, not forever. 100 days," Biden said in his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris since winning the election.
His request could lead to a "significant reduction" in COVID-19 cases, he said.
A US president cannot demand that people wear masks, but they can set rules for federal property.
"I'm going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked," Biden said.
"Transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked, airplanes and busses," he said.
Mask mandates are already in place at US airlines, airports, and most public transport systems, but President Donald Trump and some other politicians have opposed introducing stricter rules.
In November, seven New Hampshire Republicans said they want to impeach the state's GOP governor for requiring people to wear a mask in public places.
Biden plans to lead by example by wearing a mask, he said. Trump has come under fire for not wearing masks at public events.
"It is important that we, in fact, the president and the vice-president, we set the pattern by wearing masks," he said.
Biden also plans to work with state governors to implement mask requirements.
"First, I'll go to every governor and urge them to mandate mask-wearing in their states," he said in October. "And if they refuse, I'll go to the mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place nationwide."
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November found that counties in Kansas that adopted a mask mandate saw a decrease in COVID-19 transmission compared to counties that did not.
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Biden also told CNN that it's not necessary to "close down the economy" in a national lockdown if the government has clear guidance in place, such as providing funding to bars and restaurants if they have to close.
Michael Osterholm, a COVID-19 advisor to Biden, had previously said that a national lockdown lasting four to six weeks would help control the coronavirus and revive the US economy.
Osterholm later said he had not discussed this idea with others and did not believe it would be supported by lawmakers.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, has also said the US has "no appetite" for lockdowns, and that mask wearing and distancing could be enough to help control the virus.
Biden's other plans to curb the spread of COVID-19 include rejoining the World Health Organization, restoring the CDC's authority, and making testing more widely available.
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