Trump attacked Biden on coronavirus mask mandates as he did not follow through on a pledge to initiate the move to control the spread of the pandemic. However, Biden does not hold office, and he can only issue recommendations and not a mandate.
Trump was meeting voters at a town hall event organized by ABC News. One of the participants Julie Bard from Gibsonia in Western Pennsylvania asked why Trump is not supporting a mandate for national mask-wearing when it has been proven that wearing masks can lessen the spread of the virus. Trump replied that he wears them when he has to like in hospitals and other locations. However, Trump used the opportunity to criticize the Democrats saying that they said at the Democrat convention that they are going to do a national mandate but never did that. Moderator George Stephanopoulos quickly pointed out that Biden does not hold any public office and he has encouraged governors to initiate mask mandates.
Biden had earlier said in an interview that if he gets elected as President, he will execute the mandatory mask-wearing in public places. Along with Kamala Harris who is running for vice president, Biden had called governors to implement mandatory mask orders in public places. Biden said that every American should wear masks for the next three months at least to prevent the spread of the virus. This should be mandatory when they are out in public places, and this simple move can stop many deaths. During that time, Trump had accused Biden of politicizing the issue, and he said that Biden was forcing the federal government to enforce the mask-wearing on law-abiding Americans. He even mocked those who wore them and was never seen in public wearing a mask during the entire pandemic.
However, he occasionally said that masks were good even though he did not promote it in any manner and also questioned its efficacy in other places. Trump had left the decision of enforcing such mandates to local leaders and governors and did not take any bold step in this regard. However, his casual approach towards mask-wearing sent a strong signal to all his supporters, and many people did not wear masks as a mark of protest against Biden and his supporters. Even though the health care authorities said that using masks is beneficial, most of the supporters of Trump did not wear masks even when they gathered in large numbers during his rallies. He also went on to mention the recommendations of Dr Fauci with regards to wearing masks and pointed out that initially, they said masks were not effective, and later on they said that wearing masks was important. However, he has failed to understand that the pandemic was a novel one and many scientists did not have clear information about the behavior of the virus in the early stages of the pandemic.
When the outbreak first started in large numbers in March, Fauci had said that those people who have symptoms and were contagious should wear masks and those without any symptoms need not wear them in public places. Even CDC, along with WHO also said the same thing at that point. Looking back, it was relevant at that time as there was a severe shortage of masks in the early days and the WHO and CDC did not want to have a shortage of masks for the frontline workers fighting the pandemic. At one point, even Dr Fauci had said that there was no need to wear a mask in the US, and this will lead to a shortage of masks for the frontline health care workers. However, the US had only a few hundred cases at that time, and it was not a serious issue. Later on, as scientists learnt more about the virus and cases began to surge in the US, both the CDC and WHO changed their guidelines and started recommending the usage of masks.
There are a lot of benefits of universal mask usage as this can save lots of life. According to estimates done by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the Washington University, such measures can save more than 100000 lives in the US alone by the end of the year. This is a huge number considering that the death toll in the US currently stands at 200000. In this regard, if everyone started using masks as recommended by the CDC and WHO, it can control the spread of the pandemic by a significant margin in the near future. However, things are not so easy to follow especially in the US when many people get offended with such recommendations. In the early stages of the pandemic during April, many conflicts were reported among people who used masks and those who did not use masks. As some retail outlets made it mandatory for customers to use masks in their outlets, it led to chaos, and many people went on a rampage at such outlets. Considering the gravity of the situation at a later stage, many states and local communities mandated the usage of masks in public places.
As of now, the total number of cases in the US is not in a declining trend, and there is little hope in the next few months with the expected arrival of the vaccine. The latest developments indicate that a vaccine may be ready in the next few months, and this can bring some relief and reduce the number of deaths due to the pandemic. However, schools and educational institutions are set to reopen in this season, and it will be interesting to see if this leads to an outbreak or not shortly. If things go as per expected plans, the vaccination program can easily get Kickstarter at least in the early part of next year and bring some relief within the next few months. The upcoming elections scheduled in November will also be an interesting thing to watch out for as the winner will have a lot of work to do with regards to mask mandates and mass vaccination programs.