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Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called for a nationwide mask mandate to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee spoke after sitting down for a briefing on the coronavirus with public health experts. He was joined at the briefing by his newly named running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
“Let’s institute a mask mandate nationwide starting immediately and we will save lives. The estimates are we will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months if that is done,” Biden emphasized.
And the former vice president stressed that wearing a mask “increases exponentially the prospect that if you are a carrier and you don’t even know it, that you will not infect anyone if you cough, sneeze, sing, shout.”
And pointing to the nation’s death toll from the coronavirus, Biden said that “a lot of people are dying. We’re up over 160,000 people dead so far.”
Biden added that “when I get occasionally confronted with a person in public about wearing a mask I say look, this is America, be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up. Do the right thing. Do the right thing.”
The current death toll in the U.S. stands at just over 166,000 people, with more than 5.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country.
On Wednesday, there were nearly 56,000 new cases reported and 1,499 deaths from the coronavirus, the highest number of fatalities in a single day since May.
“That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said after Biden’s comments on masks.
Biden took two questions from reporters ahead of the briefing, but neither the former vice president or Harris answered questions after making their comments regarding the mask mandate.