Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has called for protective face masks to be made mandatory across the US.
Mr Biden is citing health experts’ predictions that a nationwide mandate could save 40,000 lives from coronavirus over the next three months.
He said: “Wearing the mask is less about you contracting the virus. It’s about preventing other people from getting sick.”
“This is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up, do the right thing,” he said.
Mr Biden declared: “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum – every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing.”
US President Donald Trump said at a press briefing that his administration is sending 125 million reusable masks to school districts across the nation. He urges Americans to wear masks but has opposed the idea of a national requirement and declined to wear one for months. He has worn one on occasion more recently.
He again dismissed critics who say he was too slow to react to the pandemic in the US, saying on Fox Business Network that “nobody blames me”.
On Wednesday, when the US reported 1,499 new coronavirus deaths, the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in a single day since May, Mr Trump pushed for schools and businesses to continue opening, and called for American football to continue at universities despite several leading leagues’ leaders deciding to cancel this year’s season.
Mr Biden and his running mate, California senator Kamala Harris, spoke briefly on Thursday in the same Wilmington hotel ballroom where they held a virtual fundraiser after appearing together as running mates for the first time on Wednesday.
They were briefed by public health and economic experts on the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused the deaths of more than 166,000 Americans and plunged the global economy into the worst economic recession since the Second World War.