Biden says announcement coming next week on free high-quality masks
President Biden on Thursday said that an announcement about sending high-quality masks to Americans for free is coming next week amid a push to get people to wear more protective masks during the omicron surge.
“I know that for some Americans, a mask is not always affordable or convenient to get. So next week, we’ll announce how we’re making high-quality masks available to American people for free,” he said in remarks about the administration’s COVID-19 surge response.
He touted the work done already to make sure there is a supply of N95 masks for health care workers and first responders.
“We also helped make sure that high quality masks are widely available and an ample supply at affordable prices sold online and in stores,” he said, regarding masks for the public.
Biden on Thursday also addressed the frustration among Americans with continued mask mandates and guidance.
“I know we all wish that we could finally be done with wearing masks. I get it. But there is a really important tool to stop the spread, especially the highly transmissible omicron variant. So please, please wear the mask,” he said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and over 50 Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation to send every person in the country a package of three N95 masks.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients on Wednesday said the White House is “actively exploring” whether to make higher quality masks available to all.
He added that N95 masks are widely available and the government has a stockpile of over 750 million masks for health care workers and first responders.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked about Zient’s comments, said the administration is working to be responsive to needs of Americans “and make sure they’re getting the supplies where we need them.”
“But there’s no shortage,” she told reporters on Wednesday.