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Biden will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days following his inauguration

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Dec. 4 2020, Updated 8:59 a.m. ET

In a joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamla Harris, President-Elect Biden has revealed that one of his first acts as president will be to ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days. Biden told CNN that he believes there would be a "significant reduction" in coronavirus transmission if every American wore masks.

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"The first day I'm inaugurated to say I'm going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days," Biden said. "And I think we'll see a significant reduction if we occur that, if that occurs with vaccinations and masking to drive down the numbers considerably."

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While the president doesn't have the legal authority to order Americans to wear masks, Biden said that he would wear one to set an example.

"I'm going to issue a standing order that in federal buildings you have to be masked," Biden added. "Transportation, interstate transportation, you must be masked, airplanes and buses, et cetera."

Earlier this year, CDC Director Robert Redfield called for "universal masking" in the United States in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus. Redfield added that if everyone in the United States wore a mask, the pandemic could be brought under control in a matter of months.

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In an editorial published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, Redfield called for universal masking because "there is ample evidence" that asymptomatic people are the ones keeping the pandemic thriving. 

Someone who is asymptomatic has the coronavirus but will show very minor or no symptoms, often leading them to believe that they don't have the virus.

"The data is clearly there that masking works," Redfield said. "If we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think in the next four, six, eight weeks... we can get this epidemic under control."

Redfield pointed to several studies showing the usefulness of masks, including one from the largest healthcare system in Massachusetts. Universal masking of workers and patients in this setting helped to reverse the spread of the coronavirus among employees.

He also highlighted the case of a pair of Missouri hairstylists, who were infected with coronavirus, but did not infect any of their 139 clients because of proper use of masks.

The CDC used this particular case in a study released this week, stating that "broader implementation of masking policies could mitigate the spread of infection in the general population."

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