Jan 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Bernie Sanders proposes "Masks for All"

Bernie Sanders wearing a mask in December.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wears a mask in December while speaking with media members. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide every person in the U.S. with three free N95 masks, he announced in a statement Tuesday.

Details: The Masks for All Act, first introduced in 2020, aims to improve access to high-filtration face masks by sending them to every person in the country, including people who are homeless, and those living in congregate settings like prison shelters or college dorms, per the bill summary.

  • The bill would allow people to get more masks at sites that already provide COVID-related services to their communities, like pharmacies and schools.

Why it matters: A growing body of evidence indicates the quality of a person's mask makes a significant difference in the likelihood they are infected with COVID-19, writes Axios' Will Chase.

What he's saying: "It is an absolute scandal that in the richest country in the history of the world, high-quality masks are not more readily available to frontline workers, health care workers, and all Americans," Sanders said.

  • "We are proposing that we do what our public health experts and scientists say we must do: provide all of our people with high-quality, N95 masks without cost, which could prevent death and suffering and save huge amounts of health care dollars," Sanders added.

The bill has 15 Senate cosponsors along with more than 30 sponsors in the House.

Go deeper: How switching to an N95 mask gives a 75x boost in COVID protection

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