first lady Melania Trump, left, and President Donald Trump, center, remain on stage as Democratic presidential candidate former…
First lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump, center, remain on stage as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden walks away at the end of the final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn.

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - As the United States saw its highest number of new coronavirus cases reported in a single day, former Vice President Joe Biden announced that if he defeats President Donald Trump in next month’s election, he will push for a nationwide mask mandate.

“I’ll go to every governor and urge them to mandate masks in their state. And if any refuse, I’ll go to the mayors and county executives to get local masking requirements in place nationwide,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, 11 days before the vote.

“As president, I’ll mandate mask-wearing in all federal buildings and on interstate transportation because masks save lives,” he said.

More than 80,000 new COVID-19 infections were reported Friday by Johns Hopkins University, topping the single-day record of 77,362 set July 16.

All but about a half dozen of the 50 U.S. states have shown increased coronavirus cases this week compared to last week. At least 14 states have reported new highs in hospitalized coronavirus patients in the past seven days.

Trump criticized Biden on Friday in Florida for emphasizing the infection, for which there is yet no vaccine or cure.

“All he talks about is COVID COVID, COVID because they want to scare people, and we've done so well with it,” Trump said in the senior citizens’ community of The Villages.

“We're rounding the turn. We're rounding the corner. We're rounding the corner beautifully,” he said.

Later, at a second campaign rally in Pensacola, he told a packed crowd of thousands, where few were wearing masks, “we want normal to fully resume and that’s happening.”

Trump’s critics have accused him of holding “super-spreader events,” in defiance of federal health guidelines and local regulations on social distancing.

Biden, laying out his pandemic response plan Friday, criticized Trump for asserting during their nationally televised debate Thursday night that the country is learning to live with the coronavirus.

“As I told him last night, we’re not learning to live with it,” Biden said.

“We’re learning to die with it, and there is a dark winter ahead,” he said.

There are predictions from public health officials of a coronavirus case surge as cold weather sets in across the Northern Hemisphere.

Biden said Friday that “once we have a safe and effective vaccine, it has to be free to everyone -- whether or not you're insured.”

Trump continues to defend his administration’s handling of the pandemic amid criticism he has sidelined top career government infectious diseases experts on his coronavirus task force, in favor of outsiders such as Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuro-radiologist who has minimized the importance of masks.

Atlas has also reportedly promoted the argument that lockdowns and prohibitions on gatherings and indoor activities do more damage than good and lead to increases in poverty and mental problems.

COVID-19 has killed more than 223,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 8.5 million.

Trump on Friday, without giving specifics, vowed “we will eradicate the pandemic and defeat this scourge from China once and for all.”

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.