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If president, Biden would make Americans wear face coverings in public during pandemic

The presumptive Democratic nominee's comments came amid a surge of coronavirus cases in several states.

PITTSBURGH — Joe Biden said if he were president, he would require Americans to wear masks or face coverings while in public during the coronavirus pandemic.

During an interview with KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh on Thursday, the former vice president suggested he would use executive action, or other means, to leverage federal power and mandate wearing masks in public.

“I would do everything possible to make it required that people had to wear masks in public," he said.

His comments came amid a large surge of coronavirus cases across the country, with some states being forced to pause or backtrack their reopenings.

RELATED: Florida suspends drinking at bars as COVID-19 cases continue spiking statewide

While campaigning in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Biden warned that “no miracles are coming" and slammed President Donald Trump's handling of the virus.

“Amazingly, he hasn’t grasped the most basic fact of this crisis: To fix the economy we have to get control over the virus,” Biden said. “He’s like a child who can’t believe this has happened to him. His whining and self-pity."

With just over four months remaining until the election, the contrasting styles of Trump and Biden are increasingly on display. The president is itching to move past an outbreak that has dashed the economy and resulted in about 125,000 confirmed deaths in the United States, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Credit: AP
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden wears a face mask to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus as he and Jill Biden depart after placing a wreath at the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park, Monday, May 25, 2020, in New Castle, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

RELATED: 'No miracles are coming.' Joe Biden talks coronavirus pandemic during visit to Lancaster

RELATED: Dueling Trump-Biden events offer contrasting virus responses

Biden, meanwhile, is seeking to present himself as a competent and calming leader ready to level with the nation about the hardships that may be required to emerge from the current turmoil.

Beyond knocking Trump's leadership, Biden spent much of Thursday defending the Obama administration’s signature health care law and decrying what he said was a White House-led effort to dismantle it via a court challenge. It was part of a larger Democratic effort to refocus the 2020 election on health care, an issue that helped the party retake the House last cycle and one it hopes will resonate with even more voters amid the pandemic.

Trump, for his part, repeatedly took aim at Biden throughout his day in Wisconsin. During a Fox News Channel town hall taped in Green Bay, Trump questioned Biden’s acuity and charged that the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party would be running the show in a Biden administration.