Former Vice President Joe Biden is urging Americans to take precautions, such as wearing a mask, in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic to save at least 100,000 lives until Inauguration Day in 2021.
Biden, who has been declared president-elect by multiple media outlets, made the comments on Monday during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, meant to address the lingering economic impact of the pandemic. During the event, the former vice president was asked his view on several Republican governors resisting calls to issue stay-at-home orders and mask mandates as coronavirus cases surge.
In responding to the question, Biden first praised several conservative governors for taking a tough stance on combating the virus, before laying the blame for the refusal of other state chief executives to act on the leadership of President Donald Trump.
“The idea that the president’s now existing remaining advisor on COVID is saying that they should resist,” Biden said. “What the hell is the matter with these guys?”
Biden responds to Trump COVID adviser Dr. Scott Atlas saying Michigan residents should "rise up" against their governor's restrictions: "What the hell's the matter with these guys? What is the matter with them?" https://t.co/kFrcNHA9Vf pic.twitter.com/XvDp3Id6Sk
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 16, 2020
The former vice president proceeded to call such conduct “totally irresponsible,” not only on the part of Trump administration officials, but also the governors that are choosing to take their lead from Washington, DC.
“You know, every major individual of any consequence in the health field is saying, ‘We can save 100,000 lives just between now and January 21 by wearing these masks,'” Biden said. It’s going to take a while for the vaccine to be able to be available, distributed, and get to people. We’re talking about 350,000 to 400,000 people dying.”
During another portion of the event, the former vice president argued that the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with the transition process to date might mean that “more people may die” from the coronavirus in the long run.
Throughout the 2020 cycle, Biden made Trump’s handling of the pandemic a major issue of the presidential race. Since being declared president-elect, Biden has remained focused on the virus, with NBC News reporting last week that upon taking office next year, he plans to call on state and local officials to issue mask mandates nationwide.
Such reports have drawn concerns from many that the former vice president is planning to launch another economic shutdown upon taking office in January. Biden has denied such speculation, however, promising in recent days that he would “shut down the virus,” not the economy.