The Latest: Biden offers details of 'national mask mandate'

·5-min read

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 presidential election (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is detailing his approach on what he’s called a “national mask mandate” as he campaigns against President Donald Trump.

Biden told NBC News during a town hall Monday night that he doesn’t believe a president can impose a national mandate nationwide. But Biden says as president he’d require masks on federal property, an executive action with wide reach across the country.

Biden says he’d use the bully pulpit of the presidency to urge all governors, mayors and county executives to use their authority to require masks in their jurisdictions. Biden says he’d call governors to the White House to talk about COVID-19, though he adds that he knows not all of them would come.

Biden often mentions the need for nationwide mask mandates but he has sometimes been unclear about how he views presidential authority on the matter.

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8:15 p.m.

Democratic presidential Joe Biden says he would be transparent about his health as president, but he offered some potential caveats.

Biden said during an NBC News town hall Monday that “you have to tell the whole truth” about your health as president but not necessarily “moment to moment” as a health scare plays out.

The 77-year-old referred back to the 1981 assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan. “They were transparent,” he said, but Americans didn’t get a blow-by-blow of the president’s care.

Asked whether he’d ever hold back some part of his health status, Biden said he do it “only on the margins and only for the moment.”

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5:10 p.m.

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence will debate with a plexiglass shield between them to guard against coronavirus transmission.

The Biden-Harris campaign requested a plexiglass shield for Wednesday's vice presidential debate, and the Commission on Presidential Debates agreed to it. That’s according to a campaign aide with knowledge of the request who was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

It will be the first debate since President Donald Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The debate in Salt Lake City is the first and only meeting of the two vice presidential candidates.

It’s not the first time plexiglass will be used in a debate as a virus precaution. Democrat Jaime Harrison used a plexiglass partition during his Saturday debate against Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.

— AP writer Kathleen Ronayne

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:

President Donald Trump is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with the coronavirus. Democrat Joe Biden is campaigning in the critical background state of Florida on Monday.

Read more:

— Trump says he’s leaving hospital for White House, feels good

2020 Watch: How long will Trump be quarantined?

Election 2020 Today: Trump’s drive-by, Pence hits trail

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

4:35 p.m.

Joe Biden says he’s glad President Donald Trump appears to have made a swift recovery from the coronavirus, but he notes that “our nation’s current crisis is far from over.”

The Democratic presidential nominee made the comment Monday afternoon in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood while campaigning in Florida.

Trump tweeted earlier Monday that he was leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the evening after a three-day stay for the coronavirus. He announced his diagnosis early Friday.

Biden says, “I was glad to see the president speaking and recording videos over the weekend. Now that he’s busy tweeting campaign messages, I would him to do this: Listen to the scientists.”

He also urged Trump to support a nationwide mask mandate in federal buildings, saying he himself backed it months ago.

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2:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s leaving the hospital Monday evening after a three-day stay to treat symptoms of COVID-19.

The president tweeted: “I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

The virus has killed nearly 210,000 Americans.

Trump has been treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since Friday afternoon.

Trump’s return comes as the White House is still learning of the scale of the apparent outbreak on the complex last week. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for the coronavirus Monday morning.

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12:15 p.m.

Joe Biden says he’s willing to go forward with an in-person debate later this month “if scientists say it’s safe,” even after President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters before boarding a flight to campaign in Florida, the Democratic presidential nominee declined to say Monday whether he believes the next presidential debate, scheduled for Oct. 15, should be virtual.

Instead, he said he would “listen to the science” and that “if scientists say that it’s safe, that distances are safe, then I think that’s fine.” Biden and Trump stood about 10 feet (3 meters) apart during the last debate, though neither wore a mask during the event. Trump tested positive for the virus just two days later and is hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Plans for the second debate are in question following Trump’s diagnosis, and the development has already informed changes to the vice presidential debate. Vice President Mike Pence and Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, will stand 12 feet (3.6 meters) apart, rather than the 7 feet (2 meters) originally planned.