Among First Acts, Biden to Call for 100 Days of Mask-Wearing

December 4, 2020by Alexandra Jaffe, Associated Press
President-elect Joe Biden departs a news conference after introducing his nominees and appointees to economic policy posts at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he’s pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That’s made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.

The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a “patriotic duty” and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce.

Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Biden said he would make the request of Americans on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

“On the first day I’m inaugurated, I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction” in the virus, Biden said.

The president-elect reiterated his call for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass a coronavirus aid bill and expressed support for a $900 billion compromise bill that a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced this week.

“That would be a good start. It’s not enough,” he said, adding, “I’m going to need to ask for more help.”

Biden has said his transition team is working on its own coronavirus relief package, and his aides have signaled they plan for that to be their first legislative push.

The president-elect also said he asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his administration, “in the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents,” as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert.

He said he’s asked Fauci to be a “chief medical adviser” as well as part of his COVID-19 advisory team.

Regarding a coronavirus vaccine, Biden offered begrudging credit for the work Trump’s administration has done in expediting the development of a vaccine but said that planning the distribution properly will be “critically important.”

“It’s a really difficult but doable project, but it has to be well planned, ” he said.

Part of the challenge the Biden administration will face in distributing the vaccine will be instilling public confidence in it. Biden said he’d be “happy” to get inoculated in public to assuage any concerns about its efficacy and safety. Three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — have said they’d also get vaccinated publicly to show that it’s safe.

“People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work,” Biden said, adding that “it matters what a president and the vice president do.”

In the same interview, Biden also weighed in on reports that Trump is considering pardons of himself and his allies.

“It concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice,” Biden said.

Biden committed that his Justice Department will “operate independently” and that whoever he chooses to lead the department will have the “independent capacity to decide who gets investigated.”

“You’re not going to see in our administration that kind of approach to pardons, nor are you going to see in our administration the approach to making policy by tweets,” he said.

In addition to considering preemptive pardons, Trump has spent much of his time post-election trying to raise questions about an election he lost by millions of votes while his lawyers pursue baseless lawsuits alleging voter fraud in multiple states.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, have largely given the president cover, with many defending the lawsuits and few publicly congratulating Biden on his win.

But Biden said Thursday that he’s received private calls of congratulations from “more than several sitting Republican senators” and that he has confidence in his ability to cut bipartisan deals with Republicans despite the rancor that’s characterized the last four years on Capitol Hill.

Trump aides have expressed skepticism that the president, who continues to falsely claim victory and spread baseless claims of fraud, would attend Biden’s inauguration. Biden said Thursday night that he believes it’s “important” that Trump attend, largely to demonstrate the nation’s commitment to peaceful transfer of power between political rivals.

“It is totally his decision,” Biden said of Trump, adding, “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.”

Health

Fauci Unleashed: Doc Takes 'Liberating' Turn at Center Stage
Health
Fauci Unleashed: Doc Takes 'Liberating' Turn at Center Stage

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci is back. In truth, the nation’s leading infectious-diseases expert never really went away. But after enduring nearly a year of darts and undermining comments from former President Donald Trump, Fauci now speaks with the authority of the White House again.... Read More

Coronavirus Guidelines Now the Rule at White House
Health
Coronavirus Guidelines Now the Rule at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — Testing wristbands are in. Mask-wearing is mandatory. Desks are socially distanced. The clearest sign that there's a new boss at the White House is the deference being paid to coronavirus public health guidlines. It’s a striking contrast to Donald Trump’s White House, which... Read More

Biden Releases National Strategy for COVID-19 Response, Pandemic Preparedness
Health
Biden Releases National Strategy for COVID-19 Response, Pandemic Preparedness
January 21, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — On the first full day of his term, President Joe Biden announced his plan to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, entitled “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness.”  Biden’s strategy includes issuing 10 executive orders to mitigate the virus. In addition to... Read More

Indoor Dining to Resume in the District of Columbia at 25% Capacity
District of Columbia
Indoor Dining to Resume in the District of Columbia at 25% Capacity
January 21, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Restaurants in the District of Columbia will be able to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity beginning early Friday morning, the chief of staff for Mayor Muriel Bowser said. In a post to his Twitter account, John Falcicchio, who serves as both chief of... Read More

EXPLAINER: What's Next for WHO After US Takes Steps to Stay
Health
EXPLAINER: What's Next for WHO After US Takes Steps to Stay

GENEVA (AP) — The Biden administration has taken quick steps to keep the United States in the World Health Organization and reinforce financial and staffing support for it — part of his ambition to launch a full-throttle effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with... Read More

Biden's US Revives Support for WHO, Reversing Trump Retreat
Health
Biden's US Revives Support for WHO, Reversing Trump Retreat

GENEVA (AP) — The United States will resume funding for the World Health Organization and join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe, President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said Thursday, renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top