President-elect Joe Biden said Thursday he will ask Americans to wear face masks for 100 days after his inauguration in January to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“The first day I’m inaugurated to say I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days.”
“And I think we’ll see a significant reduction … if that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably,” he added.
While Biden has acknowledged that he does not have the power to enforce a nationwide mask mandate, he said he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would wear masks to set a good example and that he would exercise his power over U.S. government property to issue a standing order that would require masks to be worn in federal buildings.
He added that he would require masks to be worn on “transportation, interstate transportation,” saying, “you must be masked” on airplanes and buses, though airlines, airports and most public transit systems already require passengers and workers to wear face coverings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear face masks as they provide “a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others.”
“Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” the agency says.
The CDC announced last month that wearing a mask also has protective benefits for mask wearers, not just those around them as previously thought.
Biden is set to take office in just 47 days as the United States continues to set a number of grim coronavirus-related records. On Thursday, the U.S. set a record for new daily coronavirus cases with 213,000 new cases reported. More than 2,500 COVID-19 deaths were reported for the third consecutive day — the deadliest stretch the country has seen since the pandemic began.
The U.S. has recorded more than 276,400 coronavirus deaths and over 14 million confirmed cases as of Friday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.