Wear a mask, urges Biden as US passes 10m confirmed coronavirus cases
US president-elect Joe Biden has implored Americans to “wear a mask” to help fight the spread of coronavirus as the country passed 10 million confirmed cases.
The country hit the milestone on Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as infections continue to rise in nearly every state.
Mr Biden said in a speech on Monday that wearing masks could slow the death toll in the pandemic, which he noted could climb by 200,000 more before a vaccine is widely available.
He said: “We are Americans, and our country is under threat.
“Please, I implore you, wear a mask.”
He noted masks could save the lives of older people, children and teachers, and added: “It could even save your own life.”
Mr Biden noted that he does not take office until January but he is assuming a public leadership role in the fight against the pandemic ahead of being sworn in.
New daily confirmed cases of coronavirus are up more than 60% over the past two weeks, to an average of nearly 109,000, and average daily cases are on the rise in 48 states.
The US accounts for about a fifth of the world’s 50 million confirmed cases.
The nation’s coronavirus deaths are up 18% over the past two weeks, averaging 939 each day. The virus has killed more than 237,000 Americans.
The Trump campaign’s election night party in the White House East Room — with few masks and no social distancing — is being eyed as a potential super-spreading event as Ben Carson, the housing secretary, became the latest attendee to test positive.
The event has been under scrutiny since another attendee, the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, contracted the virus.
Mr Carson’s deputy chief of staff Coalter Baker said the secretary – a retired neurosurgeon – “is in good spirits” and “feels fortunate to have access to effective therapeutics which aid and markedly speed his recovery”.
The White House has repeatedly refused to say who else has tested positive, even as the virus continues to spread. The latest White House cluster, coming just a month after Mr Trump’s own diagnosis, includes a senior Trump campaign official as well as a handful of undisclosed White House staff, officials said.
The White House has been increasingly secretive about outbreaks. Many White House and campaign officials, as well as those who attended the election party, were kept in the dark about the diagnoses until they were disclosed by the press.
Polls suggest the administration’s lax attitude was a serious drag on the president’s re-election bid as voters chose to deny him a second term in favour of Mr Biden.