President Biden announced Tuesday that his administration has made a commitment to deliver 25 million masks as part of its national strategy to defeat COVID-19.
The White House said the mask deliveries are focused on vulnerable populations in communities that were hit hardest by the pandemic. The 25 million masks will go to more than 1,300 Community Health Centers and upwards of 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens.
The White House said many low-income Americans still lack access to this basic protection even though mask-wearing is a critical step to help slow the spread of the virus and protect people from getting COVID-19 and its recent variants.
The specifics of the rollout
The White House laid out the specifics of how each component in its mask delivery plan will be accomplished. The details include:
When they’ll be available: The masks will be available beginning in March and into May, presumably while supplies last.
Delivery of masks to community health centers: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), will deliver millions of masks to “Federally Qualified Community Health Centers” across the country.
Anyone in those communities will be eligible to pick up masks from their local Community Health Center at no cost. Recipients will be encouraged to take an individually wrapped package of two masks for each person in their household.
Distribute masks through the nation’s food bank and food pantry system: The DOD, in alliance with the Department of Agriculture (USDA), will deliver masks to approximately 300 of the country's food banks.
Like health center visitors, recipients will be encouraged to take an individually wrapped package of two masks for each person in their household.
About the masks: According to the White House, the masks are “high-quality, washable, and consistent with the mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” and they’re all American-made. The intention of the distribution is to take care of the designated communities and populations, and officials say it will not impact the availability of masks for health care workers.