WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris said Friday “nobody’s going to be punished” if she and running mate Joe Biden implement the nationwide mask mandate they have called for during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on NBC’s “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”
Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”
“God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.
Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.
President Donald Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently — but may not encourage them much going forward if the final night of this week's Republican National Convention is any guide.
About 1,500 people packed tightly together Thursday on the South Lawn of the White House to hear Trump accept Republican nomination for reelection. Masks were not required and were rarely worn — and the crowd violated District of Columbia guidelines prohibiting large gatherings in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
More than 180,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, far more than any other country.