On Thursday, former Vice President and presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would federally mandate mask-wearing if he were to be elected come November.
“The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask,” Biden told CBS-affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh, according to NBC News.
Biden went even further, telling the press he would use his “executive” power as president to mandate the masks for the entire public.
“Yes, I would from an executive standpoint,” he answered a reporter in the affirmative. “Yes, I would.”
“I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public,” the presumptive nominee added.
President Donald Trump has promoted the wearing of masks via his White House Coronavirus Task Force team and CDC guidelines, however, he called the face coverings a “double-edged sword” during a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
“People come in, they’re talking through the mask for hours,” the president explained, last week. “They probably don’t clean them after, you know, they get a little cocky, right? Then they take the mask, they put their finger on the mask, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth. And then they don’t know how they caught it.”
The messaging on masks has been rather inconsistent from medial experts, too.
In early March, for example, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading voice on the White House task force, told “60 Minutes” that face masks were not necessary for the general population amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, noting that while masks might make people “feel a little bit better,” they don’t provide the protection folks believe they do and might create “unintended consequences.”
“When it comes to preventing coronavirus, public health officials have been clear: Healthy people do not need to wear a face mask to protect themselves from COVID-19,” CBS News reported March 8, concerning the Fauci interview.
“There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” the infectious disease expert told “60 Minutes.”
“While masks may block some droplets, Fauci said, they do not provide the level of protection people think they do,” CBS News reported at the time. “Wearing a mask may also have unintended consequences: People who wear masks tend to touch their face more often to adjust them, which can spread germs from their hands.”
“Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” Fauci asserted.
“You’re sure of it because people are listening really not closely to this right now,” the “60 Minutes” host pressed. There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask when you’re in the middle of an outbreak,” Fauci doubled-down. “Wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And often, there are unintended consequences; people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
“When you think mask, you should think of health care providers needing them and people who are ill,” added the medical expert.
Fauci also warned that healthy folks buying up masks would create a shortage. “It could lead to a shortage of masks for the people who really need it,” he said
By April 3, the CDC issued guidance advising cloth face mask coverings for the general population.
“CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States,” the guidance said. “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.”
“In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” the CDC added.
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