Saturday, September 24, 2022

Biden reveals plan to provide free masks amid Omicron wave

The Biden administration has announced that it will be distributing hundreds of millions of free, high-quality masks across the country, something the public has been asking for for a long time, especially amid the wave of high-transmission micron variant of COVID-19.

President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the White House will give away 400 million non-surgical N95 masks from the Strategic National Reserve for free. There are now more than 750 million N95 masks in stock, three times what it was in January 2021 after the administration invoked the Defense Production Act to boost mask production.

The mask distribution program will be the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in the history of the country, according to the White House.

“To ensure easy, convenient access to these masks, the Administration is using the federal retail pharmacy program and the federal public health center program to make free masks available at many of the same convenient and trusted places Americans go for vaccinations and immunizations. “N95 masks will be available to the public at tens of thousands of local pharmacies, as well as thousands of community health centers across the country,” a White House spokesman said.

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President Joe Biden wears a KN95 mask as he speaks at the White House about his administration’s nationwide response to the COVID-19 surge on January 13, 2022. The White House has announced plans to distribute a different type of mask. non-surgical N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile.

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Preparedness and Response, testified before senators during a pandemic response hearing last week that the N95s in the Strategic National Reserve came from 12 domestic manufacturers.

“We are also in the process of reaching an agreement to produce a warm base so that we can maintain the capacity we currently have even when demand wanes,” O’Connell said.

The plan is part of a larger, albeit belated, effort to ensure Americans have access to higher quality masks during a record surge in COVID-19 cases. Although studies have shown that these masks are better at protecting people from the virus, health officials are not changing guidance to specifically recommend cloth masks, which do not offer much protection against the omicron variant. N95 masks are the most effective masks to prevent transmission of the virus.

“The best mask is one that you will wear and that you can wear all day, that you can tolerate in public spaces,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 12.

Biden first mentioned his administration’s plan to distribute masks for free a week ago, when he also revealed that the White House had doubled purchases of rapid COVID-19 tests that would be delivered to Americans free of charge via a government website. This site became available on Tuesday.

There is growing pressure on the president and the federal government to do more to help people get COVID-19 home tests and high-quality masks. Public health experts and former Biden transition advisers have also tried to pressure the White House to provide free masks, arguing that genuine and affordable N95s are still very hard to come by.

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Nation World News Desk
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