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Biden Says All Americans Should Wear A Mask In Public For Next Three Months

Just after introducing his running mate as Senator Kamala Harris, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made his most urgent appeal regarding mask-wearing in America so far on August 13.

Speaking at a briefing by public health experts in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden called for all Americans to start wearing masks when in public, and to keep doing so for at least three months, NPR reported.

Experts believe that wearing masks in public is key to slowing the spread of COVID-19, Biden said.

"Every single American should be wearing a mask when they're outside for the next three months, at a minimum," Biden said. "Every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing. The estimates by the experts are it will save over 40,000 lives. Let's institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately, and we will save lives."

Biden has consistently worn a mask during public appearances for several months, and has long encouraged others to do so.

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However, Biden did tell KDKA in Pittsburgh in June that he would institute a national mask mandate if he were president. "I would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask. Anyone to reopen would have to make sure that they walked into a business that had masks," he said at the time.

President Trump later quashed the idea of a three-month mask mandate, suggesting it wasn't in the president's purview to issue one.

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"He wants the federal government to issue a sweeping new mandate to law-abiding citizens, wants the president of the United States with the mere stroke of a pen to order over 300 million American citizens to wear a mask for a minimum of three straight months," Trump, who has only infrequently worn a mask in public, said at a press conference, according to ABC News.

Biden had specifically called upon all governors to issue mask mandates in their states; at present 34 states have mask mandates.

Biden also suggested that the White House could also present more clear guidance on the matter.

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"We absolutely need a clear message from the very top of our federal government that everyone needs to wear a mask in public, period," Biden said. "It's not about your rights; it's about your responsibilities."

However, President Trump suggested that what's right for one state might not be for another. "Different states are much different, both in terms of the atmosphere itself and also in terms of the corona problem," Trump said, while also calling into question the effectiveness of masks.

Biden emphasized that his appeal for a mask mandate wasn't about politics but responsibility.

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"Look, this is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up. Do the right thing. Do the right thing," Biden said.

Harris echoed his statement and reiterated the need to follow the guidance of public health experts. "These are some of the brightest minds, not only in our country but internationally," she said. "And as the vice president has been saying since the beginning of this pandemic it should be the public health professionals that are leading policy in our country to address this lethal pandemic."

h/t: NPR, ABC News