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Biden says he will wear face mask in public after Trump says he won’t

Former Vice President Joe Biden. (Marc Nozell/Flickr)
April 06, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden appeared on an ABC News interview on Sunday, during which he indicated he would follow the latest guidelines from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to wear a face mask in public.

President Donald Trump announced the CDC’s voluntary guidance on wearing masks in public during a Friday coronavirus press briefing, though he also indicated he himself would not wear a mask, citing concerns about them interfering with his diplomatic appearances.

“Look, I think it’s important to follow the science, listen to the experts do what they tell you,” Biden said. “[Trump] may not like how he looks in a mask but the truth of the matter is that — follow the science. That’s what they’re telling us. So if I go out in public, and I have not gone to commercial places of late I haven’t gone to my local church … but my generic point is that you should follow the science.”

Biden also discussed the Democratic Party’s recent decision to delay the Democratic Convention, which was previously scheduled for mid-July. Biden suggested the party may opt for a virtual convention altogether if the coronavirus is still a pressing public health concern by mid-August.

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“Well, we’re going to have to do a convention. We may have to do a virtual convention. I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding the convention is going to be necessary,” Biden said. “We may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place and that’s very possible. Again let’s see where it is — and what we do between now and then is going to dictate a lot of that as well. But my point is that I think you just got to follow the science.”

Biden criticized Trump’s coronavirus response at multiple points during the interview and suggested the president was slow to act when the virus first appeared. Biden suggested he would like a phone call with Trump to discuss actions on the coronavirus response but that Trump has not yet reached out.

Biden downplayed Trump’s Jan. 31 proclamation banning travel from China. Biden said, “45 nations had already moved to keep, block China’s personnel from being able to come to the United States before the president moved.”

When asked whether he and then-President Barrack Obama had taken enough measures following a 2014 warning of a “devastating pandemic,” Biden pushed back and claimed the outgoing Obama administration had adequately briefed the incoming Trump administration, but that Trump “dismantled almost all of that, drastically cut budgets for the CDC.”

A March Associated Press fact check report noted that CDC funding has actually increased since Trump has been in office, despite his proposals to cut funding. A CDC grant program for state and local public health emergency preparedness has shrunken in recent years, though the decline in those funds was initiated within congressional budget measures prior to Trump taking office.