The new White House administration was considering a range of actions to assist states in lowering the spread of coronavirus infections nationwide, including sending face masks to every American household, reports claim.
While the plan has not yet been finalised, a similar proposal was allegedly scrapped under the previous administration last year, when the United States Postal Service offered to send cloth masks to every household in April.
In a statement to NBC News about the reported plans, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said: “There are a range of options on the table to help protect more Americans from the coronavirus and encourage people to mask up, but no decision has been made.”
President Joe Biden implemented a 100-day mask challenge upon entering office last month and signed an executive order mandating the wearing of face masks in federal buildings and on federal lands overseen by the executive branch. His urging of Americans to wear the protective coverings reflected a stark contrast from former President Donald Trump, who rarely wore masks in office and stirred controversy for greeting supporters in a drive-by at Walter Reed Medical Center after contracting Covid-19.
The wearing of face masks also became politicised in some ways under Mr Trump, who mocked Mr Biden for wearing masks along the campaign trail and took off his own mask after returning to the White House from the hospital, potentially exposing staff and aides to the novel virus, which is responsible for nearly 450,000 deaths across the country.
The federal government has also signed major contracts with textile manufacturers and companies like Hanes, as NBC News reported, to help supply hundreds of millions of masks to federal agencies, national nonprofit organisations and charities.
As new variants of the novel virus have since begun spreading around the world and in the US, including a UK and South African strain, some leading epidemiologists have encouraged Americans to wear two face masks when social distancing and other protective measures are not possible.
The CDC, which has recommended Americans wear a mask with two layers, said in a statement it was “actively looking” at the question of whether wearing two face masks instead of one adds further protection against Covid-19.
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