President-elect Biden asks all Americans to wear masks to fight national “threat” of COVID-19

A surgical mask and a KN95 mask hang on display for sale at a pharmacy. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

In a brief televised statement Monday, President-elect Joe Biden urged people across the country to wear face masks to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

As to Florida, that will be a tough sell. The state has never imposed a statewide mask mandate.

In fact, as of late September, there are no statewide coronavirus restrictions because Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted them and declared Florida “reopened” for schools and business.

As a result, some municipalities in Florida repealed their local mask mandates because DeSantis rendered them unenforceable by blocking collection of fines for violations.

Biden, addressing coronavirus just two days after being declared president-elect, said in his remarks Monday that “a mask remains the most potent weapon against the virus.”

He asked “everyone,” no matter who they voted for, to wear a mask to save thousands of lives: “We are Americans and our country is under threat,” he said.

However, Biden also said, “It won’t be forever.”

He said “wearing a mask may seem like a small act” but such a simple act can yield enormous results. Infectious disease experts say that wearing a mask keeps the wearer, who may be infected and not even know it, from shedding the virus to others. It is only minimally effective at protecting the wearer from others.

Democrats have been calling for mask mandates and wider restrictions for months. But DeSantis has been resistant and now has rolled back the restrictions that temporarily were in place.

Monday’s state update on COVID infections and deaths in Florida, released after 5 p.m., reported 3,942 new cases overnight, for a total of 847,821,and 58 new deaths, bringing the toll to 17,179 resident deaths. The state’s official positivity rates (measures of the number of people who test positive among those who are tested) are reported in two ways. Those measures for the previous week ranged from 7.35 percent to 10.0 percent on one scale, and ranged from 6.2 percent to 8.26 percent on the other. (They differ because one includes positive tests for people who previously had tested positive, and the other excludes them.)

Both measures show COVID infections at higher levels than the week before.