Former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would use his executive power to require Americans to wear face masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19, KDKA-TV reported.
Some localities have required masks in public, while many others recommend it without requiring it. President Donald Trump rarely wears a mask, and although the president has previously recommended the use of face coverings, he has not expressed any desire or intention to make it a federal mandate.
Biden was asked about a federal mask requirement by KDKA's Ken Rice.
"I would go back to making sure that everybody had masks, that you had PPE lined up, making sure we stockpile all the things that we need and we don't have now," Biden said. "The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask. Anyone to reopen, it would have to make sure that they walked into a business that had masks."
"Couldn't you use your federal leverage to mandate that?" Rice asked.
"Yes," Biden replied.
"Would you?" Rice pressed.
"Yes, I would from an executive standpoint, I would," Biden said.
"So you would, in effect, mandate the wearing of masks," Rice asked, seeking further clarification.
"I would do everything possible to make it required the people had to wear masks in public," Biden said, not providing any further specifics.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, Trump administration officials such as Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Dr. Anthony Fauci attempted to convince the public that they did not need to wear masks. That effort was apparently only a way to prevent the public from buying all the masks and leaving health care workers without the supply they needed.
As the pandemic worsened, the administration recommended the public begin wearing cloth face coverings in public, despite a lack of evidence that such coverings would be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.