At an event in Wilmington, DE, Biden said that “every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum.” He called on state governors to mandate wearing masks, pointing to estimates that it will save 40,000 lives.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the mask and the type of mask you wear increases exponentially the prospect that you, if you are a carrier and don’t even know it, that you will not infect anyone when you cough, sing, sneeze, shout,” he said.
He and Harris got a briefing from public health experts on the coronavirus.
“It is not about your rights, it’s about your responsibilities,” Biden said. He then put on his mask before calling on Harris to make remarks to reporters.
“That is what real leadership looks like,” Harris said.
President Donald Trump has advised people to wear masks, but not as a mandate. Only last month did he emphasize the need to wear a mask as protection. In fact, he previously told a reporter that he was being “politically correct” for declining to take off his mask to ask a question at a White House news conference.
Also on Thursday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Robert Redfield, warned that the country could be facing “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had” if a serious of protection measures are not followed, including wearing of a mask, according to CNN.
In response to Biden’s call for state mandates, United Food & Commercial Workers president Marc Perrone said in a statement, “As COVID-19 spikes across the country continue to put America’s frontline workers at risk, it is time for governors to pull their heads out of the sand and make masks mandatory in all 50 states to protect these brave workers and the millions of families they serve.”
The union, which represents grocery workers, has called for a national mask mandate in full page ad in the New York Times. They pointed to a Washington Post report that at least 130 workers have died from COVID-19.
“In every grocery store in America, frontline workers are continuing to put themselves in harm’s way. Without immediate action, these brave workers will continue to get sick and die,” Perrone said.
Later, at a press conference, Trump attacked Biden and accused him of calling for the president to issue a mandate “with a stroke of a pen.” In fact, Biden’s call was for governors to issue to mandate.
He also complained about Biden not taking questions from reporters, which he did not at the end of his remarks on Thursday. Trump said of masks, “Maybe they are great, and maybe they are just good. Maybe they are not so good, but frankly, what do you have to lose?”
He added, “It is up to the governors, and we want to have a certain freedom. That is what we are about.”