Biden says he’d use executive powers to force Americans to wear masks in public

Author: CBS News
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden touches his face as he speaks to members of the clergy and community leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., Monday, June 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he “would do everything possible” to ensure that Americans wear masks in public if elected president. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, told CBS News Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA that wearing a mask in public helps to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“I would go back to making sure that everybody had masks,” Biden said. Both he and the interviewer wore masks and stood eight feet apart.

“The one thing we do know is that these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that masks,” Biden continued. “I would do everything possible to make it required that people have to wear masks in public.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing masks in public areas where social distancing is hard to maintain. On its website, the CDC says that “cloth masks may slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

Biden sought to distinguish himself from President Trump, who has rarely been seen wearing a mask in public. Mr. Trump has also appeared at several events in recent weeks where there was limited social distancing and mask-wearing among attendees.

Asked by KDKA’s Ken Rice whether he could imagine accepting the Democratic nomination in a virtual convention — in an “empty room” or “on YouTube” — Biden responded, “I can’t say for sure, but it’s probable that will be the case.” The Republican National Convention is proceeding in-person in Jacksonville, Florida, despite coronavirus concerns.

However, Biden said that he would not wear a mask while being inaugurated, noting that he could be appropriately distanced from people while taking the oath of office.

“You don’t have to have a crowd,” Biden said, referring to the large crowd which typically attends a presidential inauguration.

Biden also drew a contrast with Mr. Trump, who held an indoor rally in Tulsa Saturday and spoke at an indoor rally in Arizona this week. Biden said he could not imagine holding indoor rallies for the time being.

“I don’t see that happening,” Biden said.

First published on June 26, 2020 / 8:00 AM

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