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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."

Go deeper

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
Nov 20, 2020 - Health

Toronto, Peel placed under lockdown as COVID cases soar across Canada

A medical worker walks outside a COVID-19 assessment center in Toronto, Canada. Photo: Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Ontario officials announced new coronavirus lockdown measures for Toronto and Peel Region on Friday, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged all residents to stay home, saying COVID-19 "cases across the country are spiking massively."

Why it matters: Canadian officials predict that by end of the month, the death toll from COVID-19 could be between 11,870 and 12,120, with the country's total cases between 366,500 and 378,600, Reuters reports. Canada has recorded 315,751 cases and 11,265 deaths since the pandemic began.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated Nov 20, 2020 - Health

Pfizer applies for FDA emergency use authorization for coronavirus vaccine

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech said that they applied on Friday for an FDA emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: This could set the stage for initial vaccine distribution in the U.S. by mid-to-late December. It also comes less than two weeks after Pfizer released efficacy data for its vaccine, and just days after releasing safety data — which suggests that fellow vaccine developer Moderna may apply for its emergency use authorization around Thanksgiving.