The White House announced Wednesday that it will make 400 million N95 masks available for free., this as part of a series of actions aimed at combating the growing Omicron variant.
The N95 masks will be available to people at tens of thousands of local pharmacies, as well as thousands of community health centers, the White House said.
The masks will begin shipping to these collection centers later this week and will be available by the end of next week. The program will be in full swing in early February.
That people in the US had access to N95 masks was one of the most pressing actions for President Biden, as Senator Bernie Sanders and more than 50 Democratic lawmakers had already introduced a bill last week to send three N95 masks to every person in the country.
According to The Hill, experts say that the administration of President Joe Biden should have taken these actions months ago to make these high-quality masks more widely available today; but that it has already been done is progress.
It should be noted that N95 masks were in short supply at the beginning of the pandemic. These masks are called N95 because they can filter 95% of all particles in the air,
The masks are being doled out from the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation’s emergency stockpile, which currently has more than 750 million N95 masks, triple what they had in January 2021, the White House said.
People are now being asked more urgently to wear higher-quality masks such as N95s, as experts say offer much better protection than simple cloth face coverings, especially against the Omicron variant.
Wednesday was also the official launch day for covidtests.gov, the administration’s new website that allows Americans to request free at-home coronavirus tests.
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