The Biden administration will make 400 million N95 masks available to Americans
for free starting next week, a White House official said, the latest federal step
aimed at reining in the US’ Covid-19 surge
Biden had alluded to the plan last week at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building,
telling reporters he planned to announce “how we are making high-quality masks
available to the American people for free.”
The president acknowledged fatigue with mask-wearing but called continuing to
mask up a “patriotic duty.
“Please, please wear the mask,” Biden said. “As I’ve said in the last two years, please
wear a mask. I think it’s part of your patriotic duty. It’s not that comfortable. It’s a
pain in the neck.”
The reported move would come just days after the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention updated its coronavirus guidance to urge the use N95s or KN95s over
“loosely woven cloth” masks, which the agency said provided the least protection.
N95s, which offer the highest amount of protection, had been prioritized for health
care workers amid a supply shortage but that is no longer a concern for the moment,
the CDC said on Friday.
There are 737 million N95s in the stockpile and President Joe Biden is planning a
news conference Wednesday to explain efforts to make COVID tests and masks more
readily available across the country, Politico reported. Much of the distribution will
be through pharmacies, which will be required to give them out free of charge, the
The administration has been under scrutiny for test shortages as cases of the
coronavirus soared to record heights after the Omicron variant was first detected in
the US early in the holiday season last year.
COVID-19 cases appear to be plateauing in New York State and elsewhere, although
federal experts warn the nationwide Omicron peak may not yet have arrived.