Former Vice President Joe Biden made it fairly clear during the presidential campaign season that, if elected, he would support some level of nationwide mask mandate as part of his administration’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the aftermath of a still-contested race, the media-declared president-elect is now reaffirming that he would work in coordination with governors to impose a requirement that Americans wear face masks, as reported by Fox News.
The latest affirmation of a mask mandate from Biden came on Thursday during a news conference that followed a virtual meeting with members of the bipartisan National Governors Association.
That group is chaired by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and co-chaired by GOP Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Eight other governors, divided evenly by party, also took part in the meeting between Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Much of the meeting reportedly focused on a discussion of ways state and federal governments could work together in combating the viral pandemic. In addition to mask mandates, they reportedly explored effective methods of delivering resources and funding where it is needed most.
While listing a number of topics covered during the meeting in his subsequent news conference, Biden dropped the hammer: “We discussed the implementation of a national mask mandate.”
He went on to note that 10 governors representing both parties “have imposed masking requirements and recognized the need for universal masking,” according to National Review.
According to Biden’s assessment, wearing a mask is “not a political statement” but “a patriotic duty.”
While fielding a few questions from reporters gathered for the event, Biden signaled a clear resistance to implementing an economic shutdown in addition to a mask mandate.
Calling prior support for such extreme measures a response to a “hypothetical” worst-case scenario, he firmly denied any intent to shut down commerce across the country if he ultimately lands in the White House.
“I am not going to shut down the economy,” he said, according to Fox. “Period. I’m going to shut down the virus. That’s what I’m going to shut down. I’ll say it again — no national shutdown. No national shutdown.”
Biden went on to explain that different regions of the nation have disparate needs, describing a nationwide shutdown as “counterproductive.” He did, however, imply that regional and other targeted shutdowns or restrictions might be necessary.