Biden Vows to Force Americans to Wear Face Masks in Public
Democratic presidential nominee says he would use federal powers as president
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed Thursday that he would force Americans to wear masks in public if elected president.
Former Vice President Biden said he would use federal powers to compel the public to use the face coverings during a pandemic.
Such a move would mark a significant intervention by the federal government and could see considerable pushback from states.
While the November election is still a way off, it's likely the coronavirus pandemic could still be around in some form or another come next January.
Biden made the remarks during an interview with CBS affiliate KDKA.
He spoke about what he thinks should be done to reopen the country from the COVID-19 shutdown and argued that he wants to see greater use of masks.
"The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference,” Biden said.
"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.”
The interviewer asked if he would use “federal leverage” to mandate mask-wearing.
“Yes, I would from an executive standpoint, yes I would,” he said, to which the interviewer asked if he would then be mandating mask-wearing.
“I would do everything possible to make it required the people had to wear masks in public,” Biden said.
A number of states require mask-wearing in public when social-distancing is not possible, while a number of others merely recommend Americans in their states wear masks.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), meanwhile, recommends wearing “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations.”
But mask-wearing has been hotly debated in many parts of the country and among lawmakers.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently said that “everyone should just wear a damn mask.”
But President Trump has not been seen in public wearing a mask and has dismissed suggestions he should wear one.
He has also suggested they could be counterproductive.
“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,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week.
“And then they don’t know how they caught it?”
Any federal mandate that people wear masks would likely stir significant opposition, considering that state mandates have proved controversial.
A sheriff in southwest Washington state this week told residents to not be "a sheep" over Gov. Jay Inslee’s new statewide order requiring masks -- although he later clarified that he was not “outwardly saying I want you to violate the orders.”