President Trump chastised Joe Biden for regularly wearing a face mask during the first presidential debate.


WASHINGTON – As President Donald Trump questioned the efficacy of mask wearing during a town hall Thursday night, Democratic challenger Joe Biden was doubling down. 

Literally, as Biden likes to say.

The former vice president said he arrived at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia for his separate town hall with an N95 mask under the blue surgical mask that he wore onto the stage.

“I walked in here with this mask, but I have one of the N95 masks underneath it. And I left it in the dressing room, the room I was in before I got here,” Biden said when talking about the importance of masks to stop the spread of COVID-19 – and the importance of modeling good behavior. 

“When a president doesn’t wear a mask, or makes fun of folks, like me, when I was wearing a mask for a long time, then people say, well, it mustn’t be that important,” Biden said on ABC.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden wears two face masks as he arrives at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tuesday Oct. 13, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

Photographs show Biden has worn double masks at other times on the campaign trail, including when he got off his plane in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday and when he boarded a plane to Michigan Friday.

A member of the charter aviation company that was on Tuesday’s flight later tested positive for COVID-19. The campaign said Thursday that Biden didn’t need to quarantine because he was never in close contact with the staffer. Biden wore his N95 mask throughout the flight, according to the campaign.

Biden’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on why he wears two masks and when he started the practice.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor and infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, said he’s not aware of any recommendation, or medical study, about wearing a surgical mask over an N95.

“It’s a practice with which I’m not familiar,” he said. “I don’t know that the surgical mask adds anything.”

Worn properly, an N95 is “extremely effective” at preventing the mask wearer from both getting and spreading a virus, he said.

A second mask, Schaffner speculated, might be worn out of an abundance of caution and to “give the visual cue that they’re taking mask wearing seriously.”

“But certainly we don’t do that in the health care setting,” he added.

Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Florida College of Medicine and College of Public Health and Health Professions, said a surgical mask can