Arizona is one of 12 states that doesn’t have a mask order in place.
President-elect Joe Biden’s first request of the nation isn’t hard, but it is meaningful: wear a mask for his first 100 days in office.
In a Thursday evening interview along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Biden told CNN about his plan :“Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction.”
Despite data indicating the effectiveness of masks in limiting the spread of the virus, 12 states—including Arizona—don’t have statewide orders requiring masks in public. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has ignored mounting calls to issue a mandate, instead saying local mask orders, which cover about 90% of the state’s area, are sufficient.
Arizona and the rest of the country undoubtedly need a significant reduction in coronavirus cases. The fall has brought grim milestones week after week in the United States, as more and more Americans contract COVID-19 and die from it. On Thursday, there were 217,664 new cases, and 2,879 people in the country died from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University data. It was yet another new, single-day record for deaths. On Tuesday, Arizona alone reported a record 12,314 new cases and 23 new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths close to 7,000.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, pointed out that these numbers don’t reflect the surge that is expected after the recent holiday. “We have not yet seen the post-Thanksgiving peak,” Fauci said, according to the Washington Post. “That’s the concerning thing, because the numbers in and of themselves are alarming.”
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President Donald Trump—who remains the leader of this country until Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021—has largely remained silent on the public health crisis since he lost the election. In the past, he’s been dismissive of masks, and has ridiculed reporters and other people for wearing them. He also never instituted a nationwide requirement to wear one in public, even though studies have repeatedly shown that they are one of the most effective tools to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In the CNN interview, Biden said he asked Fauci to continue his work in the next administration.
“I asked him to stay on 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.
The president-elect also said if Americans are willing and able to follow simple precautions like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, “you don’t have to close down the economy.”
On the vaccine, Biden emphasized the need for government funding to get doses delivered throughout the country and administered to the millions of people who need one.
“It’s one thing to get the vaccine delivered—in cases, some frozen, some not‚—and another thing to get the vaccine to move from the case to a vaccination in someone’s arm. That’s the really complicated piece,” he said.
“That’s why we’re continuing to hope that the Senate does something and responds to the immediate need to provide dollars. But we’re going to need a lot more … It’s going to cost literally billions of dollars to get this done. We can keep schools open. We can keep businesses open. But you have to be able to get the vaccine distributed.”
This week, talks in Congress restarted on a coronavirus stimulus package that would extend unemployment aid and send funding to state and local governments. The $908 billion plan that is a starting proposal is more than half of what Democrats in the House wanted, and nearly double what Republicans in the Senate proposed. But congressional leadership has been more positive about striking a deal before the years end than they have been in months. Biden also supports the compromise bill, saying it “wouldn’t be the answer but it would be immediate help for a lot of things, quickly,” at a virtual event with laid-off workers earlier this week.