The Biden administration will begin shipping masks later this week and they will be available at pharmacies and community health centers by the end of next week. The program will be fully operational in early February.
The administration of President Joe Biden is scheduled to unveil a plan on Wednesday to provide free, high-quality masks to the American people, the White House said.
The announcement follows recent warning from top US health officials, who have urged not to let our guard down amid reports of coronavirus cases peaking in some areas.
“The administration … will make 400 million non-surgical N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile available for free at tens of thousands of convenient locations across the country,” said a White House official offering Tuesday. journalists a written preview of Biden’s plan.
It is, he specified, the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in the history of the United States.
The text indicates that experts agree that the mask is an important tool to control the spread of COVID-19.
“This is why the president (Joe Biden) has constantly asked Americans to wear a mask in closed public spaces,” said the text provided to reporters.
According to official figures, the United States has tripled the number of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile since January 2021, to more than 750 million N95 masks.
Nonetheless, the new plan seeks to “further increase access and ensure that Americans who need masks have access to them … for free.
Since taking office a year ago, Biden has placed the pandemic at the center of his administration’s tasks. Among the measures, he has used the Defense Production Act to ensure that the US has enough masks for front-line workers. line and all Americans can protect themselves.
How will the masks be distributed?
The text advanced to journalists indicated that to ensure that access to these masks is easy and convenient, the Administration is taking advantage of the federal program of retail pharmacies and the federal program of community health centers.
The idea is that “free masks will be available in many of the same convenient and trusted places Americans go to get vaccinated.”
That is, they will be available in tens of thousands of local pharmacies, as well as thousands of community health centers across the country.
When they will be available?
The Biden administration will begin shipping masks at the end of this week and the masks will begin to be available in pharmacies and community health centers by the end of next week.
The program will be fully operational in early February, the White House official said in the text.
President Biden signed executive orders requiring people to wear face coverings in federal buildings and spaces, and on airplanes and trains.
The White House reported that the Biden administration distributed more than 30 million masks to food banks and community health centers last year to ensure that the highest-risk and hardest-hit communities had access to masks.
The White House text also reported that the government will continue to provide masks to medical personnel and other essential workers throughout the states.
In total, we have already deployed more than 23.5 million masks and respirators in states across the country, including 1.5 million since the start of the new year.
Criticism of the Biden plan
The country’s health authorities have come under fire due to conflicting messages on how to deal with the new variant and how to quarantine. Several Republicans said the government was not doing enough, and many people said they had lost confidence in the country’s health authorities because of these messages.
Several Republican governors have opposed some of Biden’s policies to deal with the coronavirus and in particular the mandate for the use of masks in schools.
Virginia’s new governor, Republican Glenn Youngkin, signed several executive orders over the weekend after taking office, including one eliminating mask requirements in schools statewide. However, a growing number of school districts have said their mask policies will remain in place.
“There is no higher priority than the health and well-being of Virginia’s children. Under Virginia law, parents, not the government, have the fundamental right to make decisions about the care of their children,” Youngkin’s executive order said.
For his part, Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also criticized the administration’s mandate to require masks for school children. “We need our children to breathe,” Florida’s governor said in July.
[With a report by Jorge Agobian, VOA correspondent at the White House]