US President-elect Joe Biden said he planned to issue a standing order that Americans must wear masks in federal buildings and on interstate transportation, including buses, planes and trains, for the first 100 days of his presidency.
“On the first day I’m inaugurated, I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask — not forever, just 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction [of new cases],” Biden said in an interview with US broadcaster CNN.
Following the Thanksgiving holiday last week, new cases and deaths have spiked across the US. There are now more than 100,000 hopitalizations due to the virus, more than at any other point in the ongoing pandemic. The country reported a record daily high of more than 210,000 new cases on Thursday, as well as 2,907 deaths.
Fauci to keep role
In the same interview, Biden said he wanted top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci to remain as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I asked him to stay on in the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team,” Biden said.
Vaccines for presidents current and past
Biden also said he would be willing to be inoculated publicly to promote the use of a vaccine.
“It’s important to communicate to the American people it’s safe,” said Biden.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have also said they would get the vaccine.
“If Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely I’m going to take it,” Obama said on SiriusXM radio. “I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don’t trust is getting COVID.”
Read more: When will we have a COVID-19 vaccine?
Outgoing President Donald Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine would soon be available to the public.
Vaccine candidates that have been developed by the Pfzier-BioNTech and Moderna-NIH partnerships are expected to be approved later this month. A top science official said Wednesday that the US hopes to immunize 100 million people, nearly one-third of the total population, by the end of February.
kbd/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters)