Biden weighing direct shipments of masks to Americans: report
The White House is reportedly looking at coordinating mask shipments directly to Americans as part of the latest effort by President Biden’s administration to curb the spread of COVID-19.
NBC News first reported the plans Thursday, citing three people familiar with the discussions. The news outlet added that Biden’s COVID-19 response team is currently going over the logistics of delivering masks to American households.
The plans have been discussed in several meetings among Biden’s health team in recent days, though no formal proposal has been delivered to Biden for approval, a White House official told NBC.
This comes as Biden has touted mask-wearing as an important step to combat the pandemic, with the country at more than 26.5 million coronavirus infections and nearly 451,000 deaths as a result of the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Biden has asked Americans to wear masks throughout his first 100 days in office, and the president during his first week issued executive orders requiring masks on federal property and in federal buildings, as well as on planes and other modes of public transportation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that face masks reduce the transmission of the virus causing COVID-19, advising that everyone 2 years of age and older should wear a mask in public.
While it is not yet clear when masks would be distributed to Americans or how much it would cost, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told NBC that “no decision has been made.”
“There are a range of options on the table to help protect more Americans from the coronavirus and encourage people to mask up,” Psaki added.
When contacted by The Hill, the White House said it had no additional comments beyond Psaki’s remarks to NBC.
This comes after news outlets reported in September that former President Trump’s administration rejected a U.S. Postal Service proposal to send face masks to every household in the U.S.
Emails obtained by The Washington Post and other outlets indicated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed the plan in April, including that five reusable masks be delivered to every residential address and prioritizing areas with the worst coronavirus outbreaks, with the Postal Service also preparing a news release outlining where the shipments would first go.
However, the Trump White House vetoed the plan, instead creating the Project: America Strong initiative, which at the time had distributed about 600 million masks to vulnerable and critical sectors.