President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said he has asked the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to become his chief medical adviser and said he plans to call on Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his administration.
In an interview with CNN, Biden said he’ll urge Americans to wear masks starting Jan. 20 to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Biden said he would use his authority to require masks in federal buildings and on interstate transportation.
“Just 100 days to mask, not forever, 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction,” Biden said.
Fauci has had a tense relationship with President Trump as the two clashed over the White House’s pandemic response.
Biden said he asked Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents.” Biden also said he asked Fauci to be his chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 team.
Biden said he would be “happy” to get his coronavirus vaccine publicly, as a way to encourage trust in the vaccine.
“People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work. Already the numbers are really staggeringly low, and it matters what the president and vice president do,” he said.
In the 2020 race against Trump, Biden made responding to the coronavirus pandemic his central campaign pitch to voters. The virus has already killed nearly 275,000 Americans, and with cold weather and the U.S. holiday season imminent, health care experts have urged increased caution to help curb the virus’s spread.