National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that it might be time for a nationwide mandate ordering Americans to wear masks in public, in an apparent reversal after he has repeatedly voiced opposition to such a move by the federal government.
What are the details?
Fauci joined CNN’s Erin Burnett for an interview, where she played a clip from earlier in the day of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden explaining how he would “make mask-wearing mandatory” across the U.S.
“First, I’ll go to every governor and urge them to mandate mask-wearing in their states, and if they refuse, I’ll go to the mayors and county executives and get local masking requirements in place nationwide,” Biden said.
Burnett noted that Biden also wants masks to be worn in all federal buildings and during interstate travel, before asking Fauci if he thinks “this is a good idea.”
“Well, you know, one of the issues that people that talk about mandating not being a good idea because then they’ll say they have to enforce it, and there’s going to be a difficulty enforcing it,” Fauci replied. “But, if everyone agrees that this is something that’s important, and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and say, ‘Ya know, we’re gonna mandate it, but let’s just do it,’ I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly.”
He reiterated, “One of the issues, though, I get the argument saying ‘Well, if you mandate a mask, then you’re going to have to enforce it and that’ll create more of a problem.’ Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it.”
You can view the entire interview below. The portion on mask mandates begins at the 3:50 mark:
Dr. Fauci responds to President Trump’s latest attack
CNN pointed out that “Fauci has been reluctant to support a federal mask mandate” and cited several instances to back up its reporting.
In July, Fauci told Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), “I don’t like to be authoritarian from the federal government, but at the local level, if governors and others essentially mandate the use of masks when you have an outbreak, I think that would be very important.”
Just last month, Fauci said during a news conference that “a national mandate probably would not work.”
Biden earlier this year promised to impose a federal mask mandate if he wins the White House, but then backtracked, admitting that such a move would likely be unconstitutional and impossible to enforce, regardless. He has since clarified that he would pressure each state to issue such dictates.