“This is not a matter of politics,” said Biden, who wore a mask all throughout his speech. “We have to do our part to be responsible. It means following the science, listening to the experts, washing our hands, social distancing.”
A ket factor to preventing the outbreak from spreading, according to the former vice president, was to wear a mask and for jurisdictions to consider implementing “masking mandates.”
“It means wearing a mask in public and encouraging others to do so as well,” Biden said. “It means having masking mandates nationwide.”
Quoting the director of the Centers for Disease Control, the former vice president claimed a “face mask was more guaranteed to protect against COVID than a vaccine.”
“So be patriotic. It’s not about being a tough guy, it’s about doing your part,” Biden said, “Wearing a mask is not only going to protect you, it will protect those around you.”
“Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for the people you love, the people you work with,” he added.
Joe Biden / YouTube
The former vice president’s comments come as his campaign has been forced to walk a tight rope on national mask mandates. Initially, over the summer, Biden
repeatedly called for the federal government to institute a nationwide order requiring every citizen to don a mask when in public.
As public attitudes towards the novel coronavirus became normalized, however, public opinion not only began to turn against the issue, but questions arose over the constitutionality of such a measure. In September, Biden backed away from the issue slightly,
telling a local-CBS affiliate such a mandate was likely to extend beyond the constraints of presidential authority.
“There’s a constitutional issue whether the federal government can issue such a mandate,” the former vice president said, adding he was unlikely to take such a step because of that reason if elected. “I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate.”
Since then, Biden has attempted to balance the issue. Last month the former vice president
told CNN that if elected he would impose national mask requirements on federal property, while simultaneously pushing for states and local governments to implement their own mandates.
“I would call every governor in the country into the White House. Say, you should be putting mandates out. And if they don’t, I’d call the mayors in their towns, in their cities and say, put out mandates,” Biden said at the time.