President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he plans to ask the nation to wear masks for his first 100 days in office. Speaking with CNN, Mr. Biden also said he'll issue a standing order mandating masks in certain places.
"Just 100 days to mask. Not forever — 100 days," Mr. Biden said. "I think we'll see a significant reduction if that occurs with vaccinations and masking, to drive down the numbers considerably."
Mr. Biden has floated the possibility of a nationwide mask mandate in the past but had somewhat scaled back that rhetoric since he doesn't appear to have the authority to authorize such a broad mandate. Mr. Biden said he will issue an order that masks must be worn in federal buildings and on interstate transportation, such as on airplanes and buses that cross state lines.
Masks, when properly made and warn, help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus that has killed more than 275,000 Americans.
Mr. Biden also told CNN he's asked top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as serve as Mr. Biden's chief medical adviser and be a part of the incoming administration's COVID-19 response team.
Mr. Biden did not specify whether Fauci accepted, but Fauci has said before that he would "absolutely" serve on Mr. Biden's COVID-19 task force if asked. Fauci has served as the director of NIAID since 1984.
Fauci, who became the director of the NIAID in 1984, told CBS News that he was meeting with the Biden transition team on Thursday for the first time to discuss his response to the coronavirus pandemic. He emphasized that the transition process will be key to ensure that Mr. Biden can take action on day one.
"Having served six administrations, I've been through five transitions, and I know that transitions are really important if you want to get a smooth handing over of the responsibility," Fauci said.
Mr. Biden emphasized his trust in Fauci during the interview, pledging that he'll take a coronavirus vaccine once Dr. Fauci says it's safe. Mr. Biden also said he'd be willing to get vaccinated in the public eye after the three most recent former presidents said they'll get the vaccine on video.
"When Dr. Fauci says we have a vaccine that is safe, that's the moment in which I will stand before the public," Biden said, adding, "It's important to communicate to the American people it's safe. It's safe to do this."
The first doses of the COVID-19 are expected to reach vulnerable Americans this month.
First published on December 3, 2020 / 7:07 PM