Starting in March, the Biden administration will deliver the masks to more than 1,300 community health centers, as well as 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens across the country. The White House says an estimated 12 to 15 million Americans will receive masks as a result of these efforts.
The masks will be “free, high-quality, washable and compatible with the CDC mask guide,” according to the White House. “All of these masks will be made in the United States and will not affect the availability of masks for healthcare workers.”
Zients emphasized targeting the effort on Americans who may want to wear masks but don’t have access.
“With this action, we are helping to level the playing field, providing vulnerable populations with quality, well-fitting masks,” said Zients.
Biden has repeatedly emphasized the importance of wearing masks in public to minimize the spread of the virus. The president ordered the use of masks on federal property as soon as he took office, and now masks are also required on public transportation and at airports and transit stations.
Biden said Tuesday that the White House “probably” would act to send face masks directly to Americans.
The U.S. Postal Service had planned to distribute 650 million covers for the Trump administration last April, according to internal documents reviewed by CNN in September. A senior administration official told The Washington Post at the time that the plan was scrapped by the White House because some aides were concerned it could create “concern or panic.”