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Biden to call for 100 days of masking, taps Dr. Fauci as chief medical adviser

Biden to call for 100 days of masking, taps Dr. Fauci as chief medical adviser
President-elect Joe Biden said he will require mask-wearing where the federal government has authority. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden said he will ask Americans on his first day in office to wear a mask for 100 days in order to stymie the spread of the coronavirus.

"In the first day I'm inaugurated, I'm going to ask the public to mask for 100 days. Just 100 days to mask. Not forever. One-hundred days, and I think we'll see a significant reduction," he told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday in a joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

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Biden said where the federal government has authority, such as in government buildings, interstate transportation and airplanes, he will also issue a standing order that masks be worn, which is a decidedly different approach to dealing with the pandemic from his predecessor, President Donald Trump, who frequently questioned the effectiveness of masks and has been accused of politicizing the issue.

Biden said he also asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, to continue as a member of his administration's task force and to be a chief medical adviser.

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Fauci had said earlier Thursday that he was to have a meeting with Biden later in the day, and Biden told Tapper it was during that meeting he asked Fauci to continue in his current role into his administration.

The former vice president said he spoke with Fauci that afternoon and asked him to continue in the role he's had under the past few presidents, stating his chief of staff, Ron Klain, worked with the doctor under President Barack Obama during the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015.

"I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well and be part of the Covid team," Biden said.

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Biden has also tapped former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy return to his former post, which he held from 2014 to 2017, The Washington Post and Politico reported.

The announcements came as coronavirus cases in the country surged.

On Wednesday, there were about 200,000 new cases and close to 3,200 related deaths, the most recorded in a single day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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Biden told tapper Thursday that he'll "be happy" to take a vaccine and that it is important to do so publicly as former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama vowed they would.

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Once Fauci informs him that the vaccine is safe, Biden said he will take it.

"It matters what a president and vice president do," he said. "So, I think that my three predecessors have set the model as to what should be done, saying, once it's declared to be safe ... then obviously we take it, and it's important to communicate to the American people, it's safe."

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