As part of his National Strategy to defeat COVID-19, President Biden announced a new effort to make masks more easily available to communities hard hit by the pandemic.
The Administration will deliver more than 25 million masks to over 1,300 Community Health Centers across the country as well as 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens, reaching some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends mask wearing as a critical step to help slow the spread and protect people from getting COVID-19, but many low-income Americans still lack access to this basic protection.
Today, President Biden is announcing that, over the next few weeks, his administration will:
Deliver masks to community health centers. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the Department of Defense (DoD), will deliver millions of masks to Federally Qualified Community Health Centers across the country. These approximately 1,300 health centers will be eligible to receive high-quality masks for free. Two-thirds of the people served by Community Health Centers are living in poverty, 60% are racial and/or ethnic minorities, and nearly 1.4 million are unhoused. Anyone in the community will be eligible to pick up masks from their local Community Health Center. Recipients will be encouraged to take an individually wrapped package of two masks for each person in their household. The staff of the Community Health Centers will distribute the masks to recipients.
Distribute masks through the nation’s food bank and food pantry system. The Department of Defense (DOD), working with the Department of Agriculture (USDA), will deliver masks to many of the nation’s roughly 300 food banks. These food banks reach a vast network of 60,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and other food distribution points where masks will be distributed to individuals and families. Recipients will be encouraged to take an individually wrapped package of two masks for each person in their household.
These masks will be no cost, high-quality, washable, and consistent with the mask guidance from the CDC. All of these masks will be made in America, and will not impact availability of masks for health care workers.
The masks will be available beginning in March and into May. As a result of these actions, an estimated 12 to 15 million Americans will receive masks. More than 25 million masks total will be distributed.