Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said he would use executive power to force Americans to wear masks in public if he were president.
“The one thing we do know, these masks make a gigantic difference. I would insist that everybody in public be wearing that mask,” Biden said during a Thursday night interview with CBS Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA.
When asked by the interviewer if he would use his federal power to force a mandate, Biden said, “Yes, I would.” Biden clarified he would mandate mask-wearing “from an executive standpoint.”
“I would do everything possible to make it required the people had to wear masks in public,” he added.
Biden also said he would force businesses who reopen to ensure that their customers wear masks.
Several states have implemented mandates on mask-wearing in public, such as Michigan, New York, California, Nevada, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, and more. Other states have recommended mask usage, but does not currently have mandates for them.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends masks be worn in public when six-feet social distancing rules cannot be maintained.
An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Thursday found that 89 percent of surveyed Americans said they wore masks when leaving their home in the last week, while 11 percent said they did not. The results represent a 20 percent increase in mask usage compared to a similar poll two months earlier.
COVID-19 cases are rising sharply in several states around the nation, prompting several states to slow down their phased reopening. On Thursday, more than 40,000 new cases were reported across the U.S., approximately half of which came from just four states: Texas, California, Florida, and Arizona.
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order to impose another partial lockdown in the state after seeing 6,426 new virus cases, pushing the state above 10 percent positivity rate.