Monday, January 24, 2022

Bernie Sanders Reintroduces Bill to Send Free N95 Masks to All Americans

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) On Wednesday re-enacted legislation that would allow the federal government to ship three N95 respirator masks to every person in America.

Sanders first introduced legislation called the Mask for All Act in the summer of 2020, but Congress did not bring it to a vote. But as the high-transmission omicron variant continues to proliferate, Sanders urged lawmakers to use this second opportunity to equip all Americans with the best protective gear.

“It is an absolute scandal that in the richest country in the history of the world, high-quality masks are not readily available to front-line workers, healthcare workers and all Americans,” Sanders said in a statement Wednesday.

More than 50 Democrats in Congress have supported the bill, according to Sanders’ office.

Rep. Ro Hanna, Calif., Who co-sponsored the House’s version of the bill, backed Sanders, saying Congress should prioritize this type of spending.

“If we can afford a $ 778 billion defense budget, we can afford to send N95 masks to every American to keep people safe amid the surge in Omicron infections,” he wrote in a statement.

Elementary school teacher Carrie Landheer protests stricter COVID-19 security protocols outside the Oakland Unified School District headquarters in California last week.

Under the Mask Act, $ 5 billion will be allocated for everyone to domestically manufacture, procure and distribute N95 masks that filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. Recent data show that such masks protect wearers from omicron-infected people without masks for up to two and a half hours, compared with 20-30 minutes of protection provided by cloth or surgical masks.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon officially recommend that people wear these better-quality masks. This is a departure from his previous guidance, which was developed when there was a shortage of N95 masks and the agency needed to make them available to healthcare professionals.

“We propose to do what our public health experts and scientists say: provide all our people with high-quality N95 masks for free, which could prevent death and suffering and save huge amounts of dollars in healthcare.” Sanders said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the number of fake N95 masks has been on the rise as buyers fought for better protection. The CDC estimates that 60% of masks sold as N95s are knockoffs.

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