The problem with this statement, as well intended as it is, is that the few people out there who aren’t wearing masks yet aren’t going to change their minds by a Joe Biden statement. To the contrary, having the guy who beat Trump begging them to wear masks might convince some righties to take theirs off.

I mean, slowing the spread of a killer disease is nice but there are libs who need owning here.

Still, Biden’s got to try. And a statement like the one he gave this afternoon is politically astute at a moment when Trump isn’t even trying to control the spread of the virus beyond cheerleading the exciting vaccine news. And probably won’t try going forward, if we’re being honest:

Biden can’t lock down the country but you take Kelly’s point. Anyway, if the president is committed to an “I was cheated!” message over the next weeks and even months, replete with rallies to broadcast it, the smart play for Biden isn’t to engage with him on the substance. The smart play is to keep doing stuff like this, acting “presidential” and showing Americans that he’s putting their interests first while Trump rants about his wounded pride. If I were Team Joe, I’d schedule a coronavirus briefing every day that Trump holds a rally somewhere to complain about voter fraud. Let the contrast between the two men’s priorities speak for itself in that day’s news coverage.

By “briefing,” I don’t mean having Biden wander out to the mic and ramble ad nauseam about the importance of mask-wearing. I mean putting some of the experts he’s assembled for his team in front of the cameras to discuss the outlook in various states. The country’s scarcely had any of that since April. If Trump won’t send Fauci and Birx out to keep the public informed, Biden should seize the initiative:

The list [of members of Biden’s COVID task force] includes Rick Bright, the former head of the vaccine-development agency BARDA ousted by the Trump administration in April; Atul Gawande, the surgeon, writer, and recently departed CEO of Haven, the joint JP Morgan Chase-Berkshire Hathaway-Amazon health care venture; and Luciana Borio, a former Food and Drug Administration official and biodefense specialist…

As expected, the board’s three co-chairs are Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale physician and researcher; Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general; and David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner…

Separately, the Biden transition announced that it had appointed two health advisers who will guide the incoming administration’s Covid-19 preparations but will not serve on the task force. One of those advisers, Beth Cameron, is the former director of a White House biodefense council that Trump has been criticized for closing in 2017. The other, Rebecca Katz, is a well-known Georgetown global health security professor.

Team Joe should also extend a hand to Scott Gottlieb, who served as FDA chief under Trump and has been one of the most prominent doctors on TV over the past six months commenting on the daily COVID news. His participation on the task force would add some bipartisan flavor.

Maybe Gottlieb could replace this guy, who seemingly thinks his new boss has lived a few years too long?

Say what you want about Trump and Scott Atlas, they’ve never had a “you’re sucking up useful oxygen by living past 75” stance on COVID. Although that may be their stance in practice given their interest in a “herd immunity” strategy for the virus, which seems nuttier than ever on a day when we’re told that a vaccine with 90+% efficacy is on the horizon.

By the way, Texas has had a statewide mask mandate in effect for more than four months. It had the most new cases of all 50 states yesterday, a distinction it regularly enjoys; the seven-day average in new cases is about as high as it was in mid-August at the moment. That doesn’t mean masks aren’t helping to keep the spread down, but they sure aren’t a panacea.