Is Biden right to plan a universal mask mandate?


Fact Box

  • As of Friday, November 13, there have been 10,900,707 coronavirus cases in the United States, with 248,778 reported deaths.
  • As of Saturday, November 7, media channels like CNN, PBS, Fox News, and Facebook broadcasted that Biden won the election with 290 electoral votes against Trump’s 214 votes. 
  • In the first 100 days, President-elect Biden plans to create a coronavirus task force, work on a vaccine distribution plan, raise corporate income taxes to 28%, re-enter the Paris accords, increase police reform, and many other policy changes. 
  • Monday, Mr. Biden announced the creation of the Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, and mentioned the implementation of a national mask mandate to stop the spread of the virus. 
  • About 33 states already have mask mandates in place without the President calling for a nationwide mask-wearing.

Andrew (Yes)

President-Elect Joe Biden is right to plan for a national mask mandate because drastic action is needed before the pandemic spirals any further out of control in America. Opponents of mask-wearing will claim this is too extreme of a measure, but that's precisely the point. The current plan, or lack thereof, is not working. With over one hundred thousand new cases reported each day, drastic action is needed. Mask mandates don't limit freedoms; they increase freedoms by allowing businesses and schools to stay open safely. Despite President Trump's claims that we're 'rounding the corner' on coronavirus, the situation is actually getting much worse. Big policy changes like mandatory universal masking are needed to disrupt the continued transmission of this disease.

Scientific studies overwhelmingly show that masks are an effective tool in fighting the pandemic. While not perfect, as some amount of transmission of the virus is still possible to spread while using them, they greatly reduce the chances of community spread. Masks are also cheap and easy to come by. People can make their own or buy disposable ones from nearly any convenience store. By calling for the implementation of strategies such as a universal mask mandate, Joe Biden is showing that his administration is committed to common sense, simple and effective strategies to combat the coronavirus while also allowing some level of normal business to function. We have seen evidence that mask-wearing dramatically reduces the viral spread within states and nations that have implemented mask mandates. Common sense tells us we can reproduce these results on a national scale.


Bill (No) 

Biden is wrong to plan a universal mask mandate. There are many reasons to object to such a measure, but let's start with the fact that Biden has no legal authority to impose such a drastic order. In fact, his own staff has already concluded as much. Coronavirus is only a problem for a very small minority of Americans—primarily elderly with comorbidities. Public policy should not be a blunt instrument. Biden should not be forcing a one-size-fits-all decree on citizens. The CDC reports the COVID-19 hospitalization rate over the past two months has been under 2% for those who've tested positive with the virus.

What's more, the science supporting the efficacy of masks is lacking. In the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors caution that 'there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that masks reduce the infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2 and the severity of Covid-19, much less that their use can induce protective immunity.' Even Dr. Anthony Fauci (the national face of the federal response to Covid-19) discouraged the use of masks earlier this year, saying, 'there's no reason to be walking around with a mask.'

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Biden's mask mandate is its trampling of individual rights. The US was founded on the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A nationwide mask mandate is in direct conflict with our country's foundational values. Americans should strongly oppose Biden's mask mandate—it represents a disturbing recent trend of government intrusion into (and control over) our daily lives; it's unnecessary and unwelcome.

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