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Biden says mask mandate illegal, but still favors it

Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden said over the weekend that the nationwide mask mandate that he favors is likely unconstitutional but says he still favors instituting standards on how local and state authorities institute mask orders.

“But here’s the deal, the federal government — there’s a constitutional issue whether federal government could issue such a mandate. I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” Biden told the podcast AZFamily’s Politics Unplugged, according to Fox News.

But then he seemed to say that he would still instruct local authorities to follow the orders of the federal government while saying it wouldn’t be a mandate.

“It’s about making sure the public is safe and secure, and that is a local decision but there should be national standards laid out as to how it should be gone about. You can’t mandate that,” he added.

Last month, Biden said he’s in favor of a nationwide mask mandate as a patriotic duty of every American.

“Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives… Protect your fellow citizens. Step up. Do the right thing. It’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American,” Biden said according to US News.  

Several weeks later, Biden’s vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, said that one of the first things that the Biden-Harris administration would do is institute a nationwide mask mandate for at least three months.

“It’s a standard. I mean, nobody’s going to be punished,” Harris said when asked how it would be enforced according to the New York Post.

“Nobody likes to wear a mask, this is a universal feeling, right? So, that’s not the point. The point is this is what we as responsible people who love our neighbor, we have to just do that right now. God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

Trump has countered that while wearing a mask is patriotic, he’s not going to force Americans to wear one because if a president can force someone to wear a mask, a president can force them to do anything.

“It’s up to the governors. We want to have a certain freedom,” Trump said.

Critics of mask mandates say that the demands of local and state government are both arbitrary and counterproductive.

Eight weeks ago, the head of the CDC promised Americans that if they followed mask mandates for a few weeks, the country could stop the coronavirus outbreak.

“If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control,” Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a video conference.

While the numbers of cases have declined since the middle of July, it’s not clear that the decline is due to mandatory masking in the states.

The state-imposed mask mandates appear to be ending nowhere anytime soon.

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