President-Elect Joe Biden pledged to implement a national mask mandate during his first 100 days in office. Biden delivered his remarks while introducing his top health advisers at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware Tuesday afternoon.
For Secretary of Health and Human Services, Biden nominated Xavier Becerra, California’s Democratic attorney general.
Biden promised to “on day one” sign an executive order “to require masks where I can under the law, like federal buildings, interstate travel on planes, trains, and buses. I’ll also be working with the governors and mayors to do the same in their states and their cities,” the president-elect continued.
“We’re going to require masks wherever possible,” he declared.
Biden is “absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better,” he said. “My first 100 days, I’m going to ask for a masking plan. Everyone for the first 100 days of my administration to wear a mask.”
The president-elect implored all Americans to “help yourself, your family, your community. Whatever your politics or point of view — mask up for 100 days after we take office. A hundred days to make a difference. It’s not a political statement — it’s a patriotic act.”
Mask mandates are not the only significant shifts from President Donald Trump’s do-nothing approach to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 15 million Americans and killed nearly 293,000.
Biden vowed to “get at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into the arms of Americans in 100 days,” adding that he and his team “will follow the guidance of scientists and get vaccines to those most at-risk. That includes health care personnel and people in long-term care; and, as soon as possible, that will include educators.”
Inoculating the population against COVID-19 “will be the most efficient mass vaccination plan in U.S. history.”
Biden gave “credit to everyone who has gotten us to this point, but developing the vaccine is one herculean task,” but cautioned that “distributing it is another herculean task.”
The more time lawmakers on Capitol Hill spend negotiating an additional coronavirus stimulus bill, which would include investments in vaccines and testing, the longer Americans will have to wait. This is especially dangerous for high-risk populations like the eldery and health care workers, who are among the first in line to receive their shots. Teachers will be close behind.
“Our preliminary review of the Trump administration’s vaccine distribution plan confirms media reports. Without urgent action by this Congress this month to put sufficient resources into vaccine distribution and manufacturing,” said Biden. “There’s a real chance that after an early round of vaccinations, the effort will slow or stall.”
Biden urged “Congress to finish the bipartisan work underway now or millions of Americans may wait months longer to get the vaccine.”
Biden also wants to make it safe for students to return to in-person learning.
“It should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school,” Biden saidl. “If Congress provides the funding we need to protect students, educators, and staff, and if states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days.”
Forty-three days until the inauguration.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.