Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris suggested the Biden administration would not enforce a national mask mandate as promised by Joe Biden.
Biden said last month that, if elected, his administration would enforce a nationwide mask mandate.
“It would be a standard,” Harris said in an interview with CNN when asked to clarify.
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Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrive to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on August 12, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, walked back Joe Biden’s promise for a nationwide mandate to wear a mask, saying the Biden administration will instead enforce a standard of mask-wearing.
Last month, Biden vowed that, if elected, his administration would institute and push for a mask mandate.
Related: How Kamala Harris compares with Joe Biden
“We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask — not as a burden, but to protect each other,” Biden said during the final night of the Democratic National Convention. “It’s a patriotic duty.”
As Business Insider’s Aria Bendix reported, Biden’s strategy would include deploying rapid diagnostic tests, ramping up the domestic production of medical supplies and protective equipment, and instituting a national mandate to wear masks.
Harris, speaking in an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, switched the gears, saying that a national mask mandate would not be federally enforced.
“The Biden-Harris position on this is that leaders must lead. And one of the ways leaders lead is they set standards,” Harris said.
She continued: “And so what Joe has been very clear about in his personal behavior, much less in what he is admonishing and respecting of the American people, is that we all make the sacrifice to wear a mask in the interest of love of our neighbor, in the interest of defeating or at least reducing the health risks or the number of deaths in America. So it’s about a national standard.”
When pressed to elaborate further on whether this would be a federal mandate, Harris replied: “It would be a standard.”
“This is not about punishment. It’s not about Big Brother. It is simply about saying what a leader says in times of crisis,” Harris added.
Biden has indicated multiple times during his campaign that he would seek to enforce a national mask mandate. Late last month, Biden appeared to scale back his comments, saying instead that he would pressure local officials to enforce mask-wearing.
“What I would be doing is putting as much pressure as I could on every governor, every senator — I mean, excuse me, every mayor, every county executive, every local official, and everyone in business, putting pressure on them to say, ‘What you’re doing is irresponsible. Make sure you wear a mask and maintain social distancing,'” Biden said.
The Biden campaign declined to comment.
The coronavirus has infected more than 6.2 million people in the United States, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Of that figure, more than 188,000 people have died.
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