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The Biden administration will be distributing hundreds of millions of free N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.
The administration’s plan involves dispersing some 400 million N95s through pharmacies and community sites, offering more Americans easier access to the medical-grade protective masks amid the spike of COVID-19 cases.
The White House official said the administration will start shipping out masks at the end of this week, and they should be available starting late next week.
The move follows updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which clarified last week that some types of masks are more effective than others at protecting against COVID-19, especially amid the surge of the highly contagious omicron variant.
“Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others and some may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others,” the CDC wrote in its updated guidance. “It is most important to wear a well-fitting mask or respirator correctly that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection.”
Politico was first to report the plan.
Last week, President Biden said his administration was going to be making high-quality masks available to the American people for free.
“I know we all wish that we could finally be done with wearing masks. I get it. But they are a really important tool to stop the spread, especially of the highly transmittable omicron variant,” he said.
The 2020 CDC guidance to wear only cloth masks was originally based on concern that N95 masks were in too short supply, but this is no longer a concern, according to a recent report from The Washington Post.
The CDC has faced backlash in recent weeks for its guidance not just on masks, but also for a confusing update on the efficacy of rapid testing and the amount of time those infected with COVID-19 should quarantine.
Fox News’ Erin McEwan, Andrew Mark Miller and Shiv Sudakhar contributed to this report.
Source: FOX News