- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current post at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and serve as a leading adviser on COVID-19 recovery plans in the new 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,” Mr. Biden said in an interview with CNN on Thursday.

Dr. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He has had an on-again, off-again relationship with President Trump during the pandemic.

Mr. Biden also said that when he’s inaugurated he’s going to ask the American public to wear masks for at least his first 100 days in office.

“Just 100 days to mask, not forever. 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,” Mr. Biden said.

He reiterated his plans to mandate mask-wearing in federal buildings and interstate transportation.

Mr. Biden said there doesn’t need to be a complete economic shutdown to try to slow the spread of the virus if there’s clear guidance.

“And you’re able to say to businesses, OK, for example bars and restaurants [are] going to close but we’re going to provide you the wherewithal to not lose your business,” he said.

He appeared to put in another plug for a $3 trillion-plus coronavirus relief bill the Democrat-led House passed earlier this year that is more than three times the cost of what is currently being negotiated on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Biden also said he wouldn’t hesitate to personally get a coronavirus vaccine if and when Dr. Fauci determines it’s safe to do so.

“People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work,” he said. “Already the numbers are really staggeringly low, and it matters what the president and vice president do.”

Former President Barack Obama says he would be willing to get a vaccine on camera to show the public it’s safe. Representatives for former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said those former commanders-in-chief would be willing to do so as well.

Mr. Biden had talked about a national mask mandate in his speech at the modified Democratic National Convention over the summer before backing off that plan.

Shortly after the convention, presumptive Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala D. Harris had said no one would be punished for violating their mask mandate, suggesting a scheme along the lines of the honor system.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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