Dr. Anthony Fauci weighed Friday whether a nationwide mandate requiring people wear face masks in public might be appropriate for combating the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it,” Dr. Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said during an interview on CNN.
Dr. Fauci made the remark in response to being asked about the policy President Trump’s rival, Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden, recently proposed for fighting the pandemic.
“I’ll go to every governor and urge them to mandate mask wearing in their state,” Mr. Biden said earlier Friday. “And if any refuse, I’ll go to the mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place nationwide.”
Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said as recently as last month that a nationwide mandate “probably would not work.”
More recently, Dr. Fauci reiterated Friday there would be issues attempting to enforce a universal mandate while at the same time suggesting it might be an appropriate option.
“There’s going to be a difficulty enforcing it. But if everyone agrees that this is something that’s important and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and say, you know, we’re going to mandate it but let’s just do it, I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,” Dr. Fauci said on CNN.
Public health experts advise people wear masks that cover their mouth and nose when around others to help prevent spreading COVID-19, the contagious disease the coronavirus causes.
More than 80,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University, breaking the record for the most in a day since the outbreak began.