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Biden Will Ask Americans to Wear Masks for 100 Days

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Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

President-elect Joe Biden says one of the first things he’ll do after taking office in January is ask Americans to wear facial coverings for 100 days to curb the coronavirus.

“On the first day I’m inaugurated, I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask,” he said Thursday in a CNN interview with Jake Tapper. “Just 100 days to mask. Not forever — 100 days. I think we’ll see a significant reduction if that occurs with vaccinations and masking, to drive down the numbers considerably.” 

Biden also said he asked Anthony Fauci, MD, President Trump’s top adviser on COVID-19 and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to be his chief medical adviser and part of his COVID-19 response team.

“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 told CNN.

He didn’t say if Fauci accepted. On Friday morning, Fauci said he did.

“Absolutely, I said yes right on the spot,” he said Friday morning on the Today show.

Biden laid out his plans to curb the coronavirus on what was statistically the worst day of the pandemic. On Thursday, the United States recorded 2,879 COVID-related deaths and 217,664 confirmed new cases of the virus.

Biden’s attitude toward facial coverings differs sharply from that of outgoing President Donald Trump. Trump usually went without a mask at campaign rallies and other public events, even after catching the coronavirus himself, and he ignored many safety guidelines recommended by the CDC.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wore face masks on the campaign trail, didn’t take part in large gatherings, and followed the guidelines.

Other notable points during the CNN interview:

  • Biden will take the coronavirus vaccine if Fauci says it’s safe and will get the injection publicly to show his confidence in the vaccine. Harris also said she’d take the vaccine.

  • Once he takes office Jan. 20, Biden will issue a standing order that masks be worn in places where he has authority to issue such an order, such as federal buildings or in interstate transportation on airplanes and buses.

  • The former vice president supports the compromise $908 billion coronavirus relief package now being discussed on Capitol Hill but thinks it should be bigger.

“I think it should be passed, and I think that, in fact, we’re going to need more,” Biden said. “I’m going to have to ask for more help.”

Sources:

CNN: “Biden urges America to mask up for 100 days as coronavirus surges,” “CNN Exclusive: Biden says he will ask Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days he’s in office”

Today: “Brace for post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge in 2-3 weeks, Dr. Fauci warns.”

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