Aug 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden calls for 3-month national mask mandate: "Be a patriot"

Joe Biden called on governors to issue a three-month mandatory outdoor mask mandate on Thursday, telling reporters after receiving a coronavirus briefing that experts say it could save over 40,000 lives.

Why it matters: Biden was more aggressive and specific than he has been in previous calls to wear a mask, arguing that it will allow children to return to school sooner, businesses to reopen and help "get our country back on track."

  • “Every single American should be wearing a mask, when they're outside for the next three months, at a minimum. Every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing,” Biden said after a coronavirus briefing he received with his running mate, Kamala Harris, in Wilmington, Del.
  • “Look — this is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up,” Biden said.
  • "That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said when taking the stage after Biden's remarks. “We just witnessed real leadership.” The pair did not take questions from reporters.

The other side: President Trump was among the many Republicans that were skeptical about the public health benefits of masks, at one point sharing a tweet that appeared to mock Biden for wearing one in public.

  • In late July, Trump shifted course and called for Americans to wear masks. But he told Fox News that he would not consider a national mask mandate because he wants Americans to have "a certain freedom," adding: "I don't agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything disappears."
  • The next day, Trump tweeted a picture of himself wearing a mask and commented that "many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance."
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