[guest post by Dana]
This is unsurprising:
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, called for a nationwide mask mandate on Thursday, drawing a sharp contrast with President Donald Trump, who rarely wears a mask himself and opposes such mandates.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” Biden said at a press appearance in Wilmington, Delaware. “Every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are that it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months. Forty thousand lives, if people act responsibly.”
“It’s not about your rights. It’s about your responsibilities as an American,” said Biden, flipping the script on Republicans who argue that mandates infringe on an individual’s right not to wear one.
You can watch Biden discussing the issue of masks here. He is followed by Kamala Harris, but I tuned out at that point.
Across the nation, 34 states now mandate wearing face masks in public.
While the science (and common sense) makes it clear that placing a barrier between yourself and those around you helps limit your spittle spray and thus inhibits the rate of transmission, people are still refusing to wear a mask in public. To have Biden (and if elected, the federal government) push for a three-month, nationwide mandate will clearly result in tremendous pushback from those already defying local mandates because they believe their civil liberties are being infringed upon and/or believe the pandemic is little more than a hoax.
Bear in mind that a new study warns that around 40–45% of people who contract SARS-CoV-2 most likely remain symptom-free. Such cases may contribute to the “silent spread” of the virus. Covid-19 does indeed spread through asymptomatic individuals.
Given that Biden didn’t discuss possible consequences for not wearing a mask, nor who should be responsible to enforce the directive, I am guessing he believes that it is up to individual states to decide what will work for them. While some states currently provide no enforcement guidance, or simply state that businesses may deny entry to those not wearing a mask, some states have actually determined that violators can be cited for a misdemeanor or fined. (Hawaii’s mandate says that offenders may be fined up to $5,000!)
Joe Biden’s team has released a new campaign ad focusing on Biden’s plan to contain the virus:
Given the frustration with Trump’s erratic and non-urgent response to the pandemic, this is bound to be an effective line of attack on Trump. After all, when the President of the United States blows off the daily coronavirus death toll in America with a cavalier “it is what it is” shrug, most Americans just don’t feel reassured about his concern for the nation’s well-being. And for good reason.
P.S. Commenter norcal questioned Biden saying that masks should be worn when “outside,” and whether he really meant it as a general “outdoors,” as if every time a person goes outdoors, they should wear a mask? He further pointed out that “in Nevada most people are not wearing a mask outside. Nevada is a swing state. If Biden pushes this, it will hurt him here”.
I wondered, in response, given that it’s Biden we are talking about, did he clumsily use outdoors as in out of one’s home and in public places where one is in close contact with others? I am not usually generous toward these yahoos, but he tends to play fast and loose with descriptions and seems constitutionally incapable of being specific.