Biden plans giveaway of 400M masks as Omicron surges – POLITICO

The Biden administration is planning to distribute hundreds of millions of free, high-quality masks through pharmacies and community health centers, a White House official said Wednesday.

The 400 million newly available masks will be non-surgical N95s that are sourced from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, as part of an effort to ensure Americans can access the more-protective masks during a record surge of Covid-19 cases.

The initiative — which POLITICO first reported Tuesday evening — comes in response to growing pressure on the administration to encourage Americans to abandon cloth masks in favor of more protective versions, amid evidence that the cloth coverings do not work as well against the more transmissible Omicron variant.

Public health experts and former Biden transition advisers had also lobbied the White House in recent weeks to give out masks, arguing that cheap and genuine N95s are still difficult for people to find.

The administration plans to make the masks available at tens of thousands of pharmacies and health centers by early February, the White House official said, which people will then be able to pick up for free.

The supply will not include child-sized masks, though two people with knowledge of the matter said the government is working to procure them.

Source: Biden plans giveaway of 400M masks as Omicron surges – POLITICO

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