Biden administration to deliver 25 million cloth masks to health centers, food pantries

President Joe Biden mask
Posted at 10:00 AM, Feb 24, 2021

The White House COVID-19 response team shared more info Wednesday about the Biden administration’s plan to send masks to Americans across the country.

Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House COVID-19 response team, said Wednesday that the Biden administration will be sending 25 million cloth masks to community health centers and food pantries in low-income areas beginning next month.

The cloth masks will be manufactured and shipped at a cost of $86 million through existing funding with the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to Zients, the goal of the plan is to deliver masks to “people who may be in particular need of support.”

He added that the program is part of the Biden administration’s focus on health equity and “allows people who are not able to in some situations find or afford a mask to get a mask."

According to a press release from the White House, the masks will be delivered to 1,300 Community Health Centers across the country as well as 60,000 food pantries.

"Recipients will be encouraged to take an individually wrapped package of two masks for each person in their household," the press release reads.

Reports have that last year at the start of the pandemic, the Trump administration considered a further-reaching mask distribution program that would have delivered a mask to every American. That plan was eventually scrapped.

Zients added that the Biden administration also considered a further-reaching mask program, but decided against it because, at the current stage of the pandemic, masks are already widely available to those who can afford them.

President Joe Biden floated the plan on Tuesday during a virtual roundtable discussion with essential workers. He failed to go into specifics at that event, but added that millions of masks would be widely available “very shortly.”

Since taking office, Biden has taken several steps to institute widespread use of masks. He instituted a mandate on masks on federal property and during interstate travel, and has made a public push for Americans to wear masks in public for his first 100 days in office.