Biden’s first act as president? Urging Americans to wear masks for ‘just’ 100 days
As his first official act of office, Presumptive President-elect Joe Biden will urge and potentially mandate Americans to wear masks for 100 days after his inauguration. Biden revealed the move in an interview on CNN with Jake Tapper on Thursday. He claims his mandate to mask-up will only be for a limited period. Biden has also asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to be his chief medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic.
“The first day I’m inaugurated I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask,” Biden stated. “Just 100, not forever — 100 days.”
“I think we’ll see a significant reduction that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably.”
Biden’s timely comments came after he heard the reported news that the U.S. recorded a new high in coronavirus-related fatalities of 2,804 on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
According to reports, the nation also recorded 200,070 new daily COVID-19 illnesses, though it did not surpass a previous daily case record set Nov. 27 of 205,557.
The record daily death toll coincides with news of a record number of hospitalized coronavirus patients, topping 100,000 on Tuesday. Health officials warn of surges tied to holiday travel and lockdown fatigue.
Biden and Harris have also committed to receiving coronavirus vaccinations as soon as possible when the first vaccines are approved by U.S. regulators.
Biden also said he had talked to Fauci on Thursday about face masks. “It’s important that the president and the vice-president, we set the pattern by wearing masks, but beyond that, where the federal government has authority I’m going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked, and on interstate transportation, you must be masked, on airplanes and buses, etc,” he said.
Biden is also urging lawmakers on Capitol Hill to get behind a bipartisan COVID-19 relief effort after months of locking horns to deliver much-needed aid. Rumors are flying that both sides are on the verge of a compromise.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday came out in support of an almost $1 trillion compromise as the basis for discussions. The announcement appeared aimed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who so far has been unwilling to abandon a $550 billion Senate GOP plan that has failed twice this fall. But it has ostensibly failed because the Democrats would not give any ground at all in the process.
The Democrats embraced a $908 billion approach from moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) among others. It would establish a $300 per week jobless benefit, send $160 billion to help state and local governments, boost schools and universities, revive popular “paycheck protection” subsidies for businesses, and bail out transit systems and airlines. What isn’t mentioned are individual stimulus checks that Americans need to pay their bills.
“In the spirit of compromise we believe the bipartisan framework introduced by senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations,” Pelosi and Schumer said. They said they would try to build upon the approach, which has support in the House from a bipartisan “problem solvers” coalition.
Pelosi’s and Schumer’s embrace of the $908 billion measure was a retreat from a secret $1.3 trillion offer the two Democrats made to McConnell on Monday.
It’s another sign of urgency for additional COVID aid and economic stimulus as the economy struggles to recover from being shut down by the pandemic and liberal Democrats. While the jobless rate isn’t as high as was feared, the restaurant and airline industries are desperate for aid, as are other businesses, state and local officials, transit systems, and the Postal Service, among others. Those others would include the American people as a whole.