Biden is preparing to launch his administration during a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in America. The nation broke a daily record with nearly 133,000 cases on Friday, which was also the fourth straight day of 1,000 daily deaths. Nearly a quarter of a million Americans have died from COVID-19.
If a governor declines to institute a mask mandate, the president-elect will “go to the mayors in the state and ask them to lead,” a senior Biden adviser told NBC. “In many states, there is the capacity of mayors to institute mandates.”
Biden is also reportedly considering a mask mandate for federal buildings. A study released last month estimated that a universal mask requirement could save 130,000 lives in the U.S. by the end of February.
Some 20 states already have mask mandates. On Sunday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) became the latest governor to require masks after rebuffing the idea for months when cases in his state surged.
Biden’s planned phone calls are the latest sign that the president-elect intends to prioritize dealing with the pandemic. Aides announced last week that he expects to name his 12-member coronavirus task force on Monday. The task force will be co-chaired by former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith of Yale University and David Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
The next step in Biden’s pandemic plan will be to organize a national testing program, the adviser told NBC.
Biden responded in a tweet: