Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called for governors nationwide to mandate that Americans wear masks outside their homes for at least three months to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday called for a nationwide mask mandate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After receiving a briefing from public health experts alongside his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden urged governors to mandate that Americans wear masks while outside of their homes for the next three months to combat the coronavirus which has infected more than 5.2 million Americans and killed more than 166,000.
"Every single American should be wearing a mask when they're outside for the next three months at a minimum," Biden said. "Every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are that it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months."
The former vice president asserted that wearing a mask is "less about you contracting the virus" and more about preventing others from getting sick.
"It's not about your rights. It's about your responsibilities as an American," he said.
Biden said that he and Harris were briefed on how to open schools, how a vaccine would be distributed upon becoming available, the racial disparities in the spread of COVID-19 and the need for personal protective equipment.
During a press briefing on Thursday, President Donald Trump accused Biden of trying to "score political points" with his mask plan.
"Americans must have their freedom," Trump said. "I trust the American people and the governors very much."
Trump, who long refused to wear a mask in public but later described donning a face covering amid the pandemic as a "patriotic" act, said that his administration has urged Americans to wear masks.
"We've been saying wear them when it's appropriate," the president said. "Maybe they're great and maybe they're just good, maybe they're not so good. But frankly, what do you have to lose? You have nothing to lose."