President-elect Joe Biden has announced what he will ask Americans to do for the first 100 days of his office, and predictably, many aren’t happy.
Speaking with CNN, Biden said when he takes office in January he will ask everyone to wear face masks to stop the spread of Covid-19 for 100 days.
“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 Covid cases],” Biden said.
Biden had floated the idea of a nation-wide mandate on masks during the campaign, but acknowledged that would be beyond the president’s ability to enforce.
He has also emphasised masking-wearing as a “patriotic duty” amid the Covid pandemic, which has ravaged the US.
The US currently tops the world in terms of confirmed Covid-19 cases with over 14 million.
Biden’s move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicisation of the issue.
That’s made many people hesitant 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.
Masks have been recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as a way to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people,” the CDC says.
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.
Seeing as masks have been politicised, the response was seemingly divided.
One person said on Twitter many people in the US had been wearing masks for months, yet there has still been a surge of cases, while others said it was a “good idea”.
“I won’t be doing that. Thanks though,” someone said in response to the news, while another asked Biden to “make it make sense pls”.
“@JoeBiden your 100 day mask idea is a f**kin joke,” someone tweeted.
“Helloooooo Joey, we've been doing this s**t since March. What's next, honking horns for 100 days.”
Someone pointed out the US could be a in a very different position right now if Trump himself wore a face mask, though some Trump supporters shared photos of their Trump face masks that they said they do wear.
An Australian offered some words of encouragement to those in the US, ahead of Biden’s request:
“Dear America: hello from Victoria, Australia. We all wear masks. We’ve had no new cases of COVID-19 for over a month now. You can do this. Do it for each other,” Asher Wolf tweeted.
Biden to keep Dr Fauci, former presidents to get vaccine
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 Dr 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.”
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