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Draft press release provided to Axios by American Oversight

In April, the Postal Service "drafted a news release announcing plans to distribute 650 million masks nationwide, enough to offer five face coverings to every American household," the Washington Post reports, based on documents obtained by American Oversight, a watchdog group that requested them under FOIA.

  • What's happening: The idea originated at HHS, "which suggested a pack of five reusable masks be sent to every residential address in the country, with the first shipments going to the hardest-hit areas," per The Post.

Why it matters: Imagine if five months ago, Americans not only got a signal from their government that they should wear masks, but even had them handed to them. Incalculable loss — human and economic — could have been avoided.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 27, 2020 - World

EU launches coronavirus vaccine drive to inoculate 450M people

Krystyna Matusik, a nurse from the Krakow University Hospital Intensive Care Unit, is given the first jab of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday. Photo: Omar Marques/Getty Images

The European Union began on Sunday a coordinated rollout of coronavirus vaccinations across its 27 member states in a drive to inoculate some 450 million people.

Why it matters: Several European countries have tightened restrictions as cases, deaths and hospitalizations surge. EU countries have recorded at least 16 million COVID-19 cases and 336,000 deaths since the pandemic began, per AP.

Dec 27, 2020 - World

WHO chief warns coronavirus crisis "will not be the last pandemic"

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a video marking the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness Sunday "history tells us that this will not be the last pandemic, and epidemics are a fact of life."

What he's saying: Tedros said responses to such outbreaks had been "dangerously short-sighted," throwing money at the problem without preparing for the next one.

Dec 27, 2020 - World

New coronavirus variant reaches Canada, Japan and several EU countries

A COVID-19 assessment center in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Photo: Zou Zheng/Xinhua via GettyImages

Cases of a new variant of COVID-19 first detected in England were confirmed by health officials in Canada, Japan and several more European Union countries Saturday.

Why it matters: While there's no evidence the variant is more deadly than the original strain, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement that it could be 70% more transmissible prompted dozens of countries to ban travel from the United Kingdom.