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Biden waves as he leaves a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware Wednesday he believes he would have the legal authority as president to issue a nationwide mandate to wear face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus if needed.

Details: "Our legal team thinks I can do that, based upon the degree to which there's a crisis in those states, and how bad things are for the country," Biden said.

  • The former vice president later added he'd work with scientists to make the case to Republican and Democratic governors to determine whether such federal action were needed, ABC notes.
"The question is whether I have the legal authority as president to sign an executive order. We think we do."

Flashback: Biden said earlier this month he'd press local officials and governors to issue mandates on face coverings, adding there's a "question under the Constitution" on whether a president could take such action, per CBS News.

The other side: Biden's comments on the issue are in stark contrast to the stance of President Trump, who has rarely been seen wearing a mask. He told Axios in June that he believes masks are a "double-edged sword," and he appeared to mock Biden for wearing one in May.

  • On Wednesday, Trump said, "Masks have problems too. And I talked about the masks — have to be handled very gently, very carefully.
  • "I see that in restaurants there are people with masks and they are playing around with their masks and they have it — their fingers are in their mask and then they are serving with plates. I mean, I think there's a lot of problems with masks."

Of note: Trump said during Tuesday's ABC town hall that he found it "fascinating" that "Biden didn't put in a mask mandate."

  • Biden responded, "I'm not the president. He's the president. It's like, you know, Biden's problems — and these cities are in flames. I'm not the president, he's the president."

Go deeper: Biden: "I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump"

Go deeper

Dec 20, 2020 - World

Biden and Mexico's López Obrador discuss "new approach" to migration issues

Combination images of President-elect Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images/Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador discussed in a phone call Saturday working together on a "new approach" to migration that "offers alternatives to undertaking the dangerous journey" to the U.S.

Why it matters: The statement from Biden's transition team on the call details represents a key part of the president-elect's plans to overhaul President Trump's aggressive border policy.

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.