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Friday, May 20, 2022

N95 masks will be distributed free of cost to the public

(CNN) – The Biden administration will provide 400 million N95 masks to Americans for free starting next week, a White House official told CNN, the latest federal move aimed at curbing the COVID-19 surge.

The masks – which are coming from the Strategic National Stockpile – will be made available at pharmacies and community health centers, the official said, adding that the program “will be fully up and running by early February.”

“This is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history,” the official said.

The Washington Post reported that under the program, each adult can get up to three masks. There are no certified N95s in children’s sizes yet, but program administrators hope they will soon be able to provide “high-quality masks” in smaller sizes.

The 400 million non-surgical N95 masks amount to more than half of the 750 million stored in the Strategic National Stockpile, a figure that is more than three times as high as the previous year as the White House sought to boost stockpiles . The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently advised that well-fitted respirators – such as N95 masks – approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provide the “highest level of protection” against COVID-19. Huh.

The administration’s move comes at a time when the US is battling an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, an average of more than 750,000 new Covid-19 infections were recorded every day over the past week.

“I know we all wish we could finally wear masks. I get it,” Biden said last week in remarks on his administration’s coronavirus response. “But there is – they are a really important tool to stop the spread, especially of the highly communicable Omicron variant. So, please, please wear a mask.”

Earlier this month, the CDC changed its mask guidelines recommending that people wear “the most protective mask that you can fit well and you will wear consistently.”

“Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. There is no place for them in the light of Omicron,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Lena Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, said recently on “CNN Newsroom.” .


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