Free masks will be distributed throughout the nation in an effort to fight the pandemic, said officials.
Biden administration will deliver more than 25 million free cloth masks to nearly 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens to reach the most vulnerable hit by the pandemic, as announced by the White House on Wednesday.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced in a press release the mask distribution will start in March. These well-fitted, high-quality masks will be made in the USA, available in adult and kid sizes, and will be washable. They will also be designed following the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
This program has an estimated budget of $86 million, and the government expects it will benefit at least 12 to 15 million people who have low income and are struck by the pandemic.
"While masks are widely available in many different shapes and sizes, many low-income Americans still lack affordable access to this basic protection. That's why we're taking this important action to keep Americans safe," said Jeff Zients at the briefing.
WATCH: Jeff Zients will share an update on our public health and vaccination efforts followed by a state of the pandemic from @CDCDirector Dr. Walensky and a science update from Dr. Fauci. https://t.co/HOXGE95rbq— White House COVID-19 Response Team (@WHCOVIDResponse) February 24, 2021
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense will begin distributing the masks in the coming weeks, and between March to May. Each member of a family in these communities can collect a package of two masks.
For distribution in food banks, the Department of Defense will partner with the Department of Agriculture. The masks will be distributed to 300 food banks where they will be supplied to food pantries and other distribution centers.
"Not all Americans are wearing masks regularly, not all Americans have access and not all masks are equal," Jeff said. "With this action, we are helping to level the playing field, giving vulnerable populations quality, well-fitted masks."
According to the fact sheets provided by the White House, two-thirds of people served in these community health centers live in poverty, 60% belong to ethnic minorities, and almost 1.5 million are homeless.
However, this initiative will not affect the supply of masks to health care workers.
President Biden has already mandated wearing a mask in all federal buildings and interstate travels starting in January. Recently, CDC has recommended using a layered face covering. According to recent researches, layering a cloth mask above a surgical mask can prove better protection to the new variants of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to increase next month now that weather conditions have improved substantially. Pfizer expects to provide more than 13 million doses of its two-shot vaccine per week to the U.S. by mid-March. Also, Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge said they are hoping to deliver 40 million doses per month, which is roughly double the current supply.
As of Wednesday, the nation reported 82,399 new cases and 2,418 fatal cases resulting in 28.3 million total recorded cases and 505,000 deaths.
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