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'I won't be president until Jan. 20, but my message today to everyone is this: wear a mask'
While the 2020 presidential election remains contested, former Vice President Joe Biden will charge ahead and begin phase one of his coronavirus pandemic response plan: Pursuing a national mask mandate.
Biden on Monday called on all Americans to wear a mask as his presidential transition team rolled out his coronavirus task force.
A "senior Biden adviser" who spoke to NBC News said that in the coming weeks Biden will begin calling on governors and local state officials to impose mask mandates in anticipation of a spike in COVID-19 cases this winter.
"If a governor declines, he'll go to the mayors in the state and ask them to lead," NBC News' source said. "In many states, there is the capacity of mayors to institute mandates."
Utah is the most recent state among 33 state governments to implement requirements for people to wear face coverings while in public.
Biden's team is also reportedly considering a mask mandate for federal buildings, which the Trump administration has not implemented.
Speaking Monday after meeting with the 12-member coronavirus task force assembled to fulfill his campaign promises on the pandemic, Biden asked Americans to refrain from politicizing masks.
"The goal of mask-wearing is not to make your life less comfortable or take something away from you. It's to give something back to all of us: a normal life," Biden said. "The goal is to get back to normal as fast as possible, and masks are critical to doing that. It won't be forever."
He said wearing a mask is not a "political statement" but is "a good way to start pulling the country together."
"It doesn't matter who you voted for; where you stood before Election Day," Biden continued. "It doesn't matter your party, your point of view. We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democrat or Republican lives — American lives."
Biden's task force includes Dr. Rick Bright, the former chief of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who claimed he was removed from his position by the Trump administration for questioning the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus symptoms. The Biden task force also includes several prominent health policy experts, academics, former Obama administration officials, and doctors.
Following mask mandates, the next step of Biden's coronavirus plan calls for nationwide testing. The Biden team is reportedly exploring potential executive orders to carry out his plan in case legislative initiatives are blocked by a Republican-controlled Senate come next year.
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