US to hand out 400 million N95 masks for free, starting next week

Posted: 19 January 2022 7:31 pm
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Adults will be able to get three masks each, the largest distribution of free masks by the federal government to the public since the onset of the pandemic.

The Biden administration will distribute 400 million nonsurgical N95 masks to Americans free starting next week, the White House announced Wednesday.

With the highly transmissible Omicron variant raging throughout the US, public health experts continue to say that masking is a critical tool to control the spread of COVID-19.

This mask distribution is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history, the White House said.

The masks will come from the Strategic National Stockpile and will be made available at thousands of local pharmacies and community health centers starting next week. The program to distribute free masks will be fully up and running by early February.

Each person will be able to receive up to three masks. The 400 million masks that are to be distributed make up more than half of the 750 million stored in the US’ Strategic National Stockpile.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance on masks for the general public, saying that people “can choose” to wear N95 and KN95 masks because they offer the highest level of protection against COVID-19.

Beyond masks, the federal government launched a website to order free COVID-19 tests, allowing people to order up to four free tests shipped directly to their households, entirely free.

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