Biden calls for nationwide mask mandate

Joe Biden says a national mandate to wear face-masks could save thousands of American lives.
Joe Biden says a national mandate to wear face-masks could save thousands of American lives.

Joe Biden is calling for a nationwide protective mask mandate, citing health experts' predictions that it could save 40,000 lives in the US over the next three months.

"Wearing the mask is less about you contracting the virus," Biden said. "It's about preventing other people from getting sick."

The Democratic presidential candidate also responded to those who push back against such mandates.

"This is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up, do the right thing."

"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 declared.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday his administration was sending 125 million reusable masks to school districts across the nation. He urges Americans to wear masks but has opposed the idea of a national requirement and declined to wear one for months. He has worn one on occasion more recently.

On Thursday he again dismissed critics who say he was too slow to react to the pandemic in the US, saying on Fox Business Network that "nobody blames me."

"Look, we got hit by the China plague and we're not going to forget it. We got hit by the China plague," he said.

On Wednesday, when the US reported 1,499 new coronavirus deaths, the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day since May, Trump pushed for schools and businesses to continue opening, and called for college football to go on despite several leagues' leaders deciding to cancel this year's season.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the deaths of more than 166,000 Americans and plunged the global economy into the worst economic recession since World War II.

Australian Associated Press