The former US vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, on Thursday called on all US state governors to “immediately” issue a mandatory order to enforce the wearing of masks in public places “for the next three months at a minimum” to assist the nation in slowing the spread of the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately and we will save lives. The estimates are we will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months, if that is done,” Biden said during a Thursday briefing, joined by his newly-named vice presidential running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris.
As of Thursday, only 34 US states are currently mandating face-covering in public places.
The former vice president also urged Americans to “do the right thing” and wear masks in public, not only to protect themselves, but also to “protect your fellow citizens”.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” Biden stated, following a meeting with health experts. “Wearing a mask is going to get our kids back to school sooner and safer”.
Senator Harris reacted to Biden’s remarks, saying, “That’s what real leadership looks like”, stressing the importance of wearing protective masks.
“That’s what real leadership looks like. We just witnessed real leadership, which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months, because it will save lives,” the California Senator said.
The former vice president, as well as many Democrats and some GOP lawmakers, have repeatedly criticized the administration of Republican President Donald Trump for its "poor" handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing the high number of COVID causalities in the US, Biden said that he hopes “the president has learned a lesson”.
“I hope we learned a lesson. I hope the president has learned a lesson. But again, this is not about Democrat, Republican, or independent. It’s about saving American lives,” Biden said.
Trump has repeatedly downplayed the necessity of wearing face-coverings during the pandemic, insisting that wearing masks is “a double-edged sword”, and left it to governors to decide whether to require masks in their states.
In mid-July, during a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, Trump was seen for the first time in public wearing a protective mask.
“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus," tweeted Trump, adding, "and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance. There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”
On Tuesday, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, announced that he had chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate on the Democratic ticket in the November 2020 election against Republican President Donald Trump and his VP, Mike Pence. Biden described Harris as a “fearless fighter” and “one of the country's finest public servants”.
As of Thursday, the United States has registered over 5,240,000 COVID-19 infections, and at least 166,956 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University coronavirus data.