Biden Tells Virtual Gathering Face Mask Distribution Coming
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said during a virtual meeting with essential workers on Wednesday that the administration plans to distribute millions of cloth face masks beginning early next month.
According to a statement from the White House, the reusable, American-made masks will be available beginning in March and into May, and an estimated 12 to 15 million Americans will receive masks. In total, more than 25 million masks are expected to be distributed nationwide.
The president has asked all Americans to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term, and has also required the wearing of face masks in federal buildings and on public transportation.
The plan under consideration would not distribute masks through the mail, but instead would hand them out through Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and the nation’s food bank and food pantry systems to better reach underserved communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic.
The White House said the the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture will be involved in the distribution of the masks in both adult and kid sizes.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki old the Associated Press the cloth masks will adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and “certainly they meet those requirements set by our federal standard.”
Also on Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order directing the heads of all Executive Branch departments and agencies to facilitate “the gathering, sharing, and publication of COVID-19-related data, in coordination with the coordinator of the COVID-19 response and counselor to the president.”
He further directed this data collection activity be carried out “to the extent permitted by law, and with appropriate protections for confidentiality, privacy, law enforcement, and national security.”
“These efforts shall assist Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial authorities in developing and implementing policies to facilitate informed community decision‑making, to further public understanding of the pandemic and the response, and to deter the spread of misinformation and disinformation,” the order said.