Feb 24, 2021 - Health

White House to send 25 million free masks to America's most vulnerable

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wears a protective mask while listening to U.S. President Joe Biden, left

Anthony Fauci wears a protective mask while listening to President Biden. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Wednesday it will send more than 25 million masks to more than 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens in order to reach some Americans most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Why it matters: Many studies show wearing tightly fit masks, and even double-masking, is effective to curb the spread of COVID-19 when social distancing is not possible.

Details: Masks will be free to recipients, made out of well-fitting cloth in children's and adult sizes and can be washed for reuse.

  • The federal government will pay $86 million for the American-made masks.
  • The administration is taking the more targeted move to send to vulnerable populations after considering whether to send masks to all Americans, a notion that’s been shelved for now, Bloomberg first reported.

The big picture: Despite declines in coronavirus cases and deaths and increased vaccine intake across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still urges Americans to wear masks.

What they're saying: "Months ago, sending a mask to every American would have been a good idea," Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus coordinator, said in a press conference.

  • "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," he added.
Go deeper