Biden Administration Will Send 25 Million Reusable Face Masks to Health Care Centers, Food Banks
The White House announced today that it will send 25 million masks to more than 1,300 health care centers and 60,000 food pantries in the U.S. in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable communities.
According to Axios, the masks will be reusable, washable cloth, meaning that if they are single-layer, the users should still find a way to layer them over disposable masks or other cloth masks. They will be available in children’s and adult sizes.
Axios reported that the government will pay $86 million for the masks, which were manufactured in the U.S.
“Months ago, sending a mask to every American would have been a good idea,” Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus coordinator, said, according to Axios. “Today, masks are widely available in many different shapes and sizes, yet still not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, and not all masks are equal. Many Americans need access to a mask that provides effective protection.”
As of now, it appears this plan would replace the Biden administration's proposed plan to send masks to every U.S. household. One source told Bloomberg that that idea has been “shelved for now,” with the administration choosing instead to target specific communities first.
In addition to the layers of protection, health experts have stressed the importance of a snug fit, keeping all potential gaps closed that would allow for airborne pathogens to reach or escape the mouth or nose.
We've seen mask-distribution efforts like this on a smaller scale, notably in Florida's Palm Beach County, which mailed masks to 659,000 residences. But this is the first time we're seeing this kind of undertaking on a larger scale.
It also comes shortly after ASTM released a first-of-its kind standard for non-medical face masks, creating a certification process that would clearly communicate a mask’s effectiveness and safety to consumers using masks outside of health care settings.