Biden administration to give out 400 million N95 masks

I signed up for my free at-home COVID tests yesterday. Here is the link and it was really easy. We’ll see how long it takes to get here, but at least the sign up part was easy. Now I need to get in line for my Biden masks. The administration is making 400 million N95 masks available – for free – starting next week. With Omicron numbers continuing to climb and health officials saying the N95 mask is the best mask to protect yourself and others from the virus, this is welcome news.

The Biden administration will make 400 million N95 masks available to Americans for free starting next week, a White House official told CNN, the latest federal step aimed at reining in the US’ Covid-19 surge.

The masks — which are coming from the Strategic National Stockpile — will be made available at a number of local pharmacies and community health centers, the official said, adding that the program will be “fully up and running by early February.”

“This is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history,” the official said.

People looking to pick up the free masks will be limited to three per person, a White House official said.

“To ensure broad access for all Americans, there will be three masks available per person. In addition to this program, thanks to the administration’s efforts, these high-quality masks are in ample supply and widely available to American consumers,” the official said.

The 400 million non-surgical N95 masks amount to more than half of the 750 million stored in the US’ Strategic National Stockpile, a figure that tripled over the last year as the White House sought to boost reserves. The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recently advised that well-fitting respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health — such as N95 masks — offer “the highest level of protection” against Covid-19.

[From CNN]

The N95 masks are a disposable mask. I hope that when they are handed out, they also explain things like proper fit/coverage, how many times these can be worn, etc. When these masks hit the drugstores, it’ll be a madhouse, but it’s important that people wear them correctly too. I’m grateful to hear they will be made available to everyone. N95 masks can get expensive. The N95 mask is a filter, which is the difference between them and other masks. The CDC and other health organizations are now saying that regular cloth masks are not doing enough to protect you from the transmissibility of Omicron. The CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, went so far as to call cloth masks mere “facial decorations” when it comes to Omicron. I have cloth masks with a filter that’s inserted. The insert feels the same as the N95 masks. I’ll have to ask the medical folk in my family if I’m okay there. As the article states, 400 million is half the county’s stockpile. That number would, however, allow for at least one mask for every person in the country, which is amazing.

I feel like we’re living inside that old joke: the one about the guy who hears there’s going to be a flood and says God will take care of him. A lifeboat comes to his door as the waters rise, and he turns them away, saying God will take care of him. As he’s on his roof, surrounded by water, a helicopter comes for him and he waves them off, saying God will take care of him. So he drowns. And as he stands before God, he asks Him, “why didn’t you save me?” God says, “I sent you a radio alert, a lifeboat, a helicopter – but you ignored all my attempts!” Masks, vaccines, boosters and testing are all tools in fighting the spread of this virus and saving our lives. They are all being made available to the people of the US at no cost as of next week. Many are available now. All we, as a country, need to do is take what is being given to us and exercise the necessary precautions. And yet, we’re sitting here, two years in, watching people get sick – and dying – in tragic numbers. And somehow people are mad at the government for not ending the pandemic.

Photo credit: InStar Images and Avalon Red

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26 Responses to “Biden administration to give out 400 million N95 masks”

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  1. TIFFANY says:

    I realize I gotta go outside outside to get them, but I’m down. I was stockpiling the few that I had but realized I gotta use them before they expire.

    Between the shots and boosters being no charge, the kits are in the mail and now this, I just wanna say thanks Mr. President.

    • fluffybunny says:

      My pharmacy has a drive thru. I only go into the store to get vaccines. Maybe you can find one with a drive thru. I go 15 minutes before they open so I’m the first in line because they also do drive thru covid tests and those can back the line up.

  2. Songs (or it didn't happen) says:

    At this point, as an American woman living in a deeply regressive red state, I am just tired. I am exhausted because I know that each positive step our president takes to try to ensure the health of all Americans (not just the ones who voted for him) will be met with scorn, mockery and misinformation. When my local news ran a story about free masks, that good thing was immediately drowned by accusations that the masks will come from China, that Biden is bankrupting the country, how much will it cost???!? (because they ignored the information that the government has a stockpile of over 7 million masks), that the whole thing is a hoax, that Susie May and cousin Clebert had covid and weren’t nothing but a cold, that Granny Irene has NEVER WORN A MASK AND NEVER WILL GO BRANDON, etc etc etc etc.

    I am tired of the fact that so so many people would literally rather die than accept something perfectly free, just because it comes from a democrat.

    There is no end in sight. This will never be over.

    • Kitten says:

      It will never be over and the senate scrapping voting rights absolutely ensures it.

    • Merricat says:

      I am sad to agree. Wow.

    • fluffybunny says:

      If they’re worried about masks being from china they can go to Amazon and search for masks made in the USA. I just bought some from Amazon after the ones I bought from the place that was recommended here were lost in the mail. Just typing in N95 brings up the made in America option. Not that those people would wear a mask regardless of where it was made.

  3. Annaloo. says:

    This pandemic is on all of us to control through common decency, which this country seems to lack. Even the act of covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze has become political, and the guy in charge, people are expecting Superman from him. Though I agree w the sentiment, the govt sending out a one time blast of n95s may be foolhardy and pound foolish, bc it’s not a sustainable move. I’d rather them work on a biosuit now that will shield you from viruses, weather and temperature elements and community stupidity. At this point, that strategy seems more viable than this. Too many Americans will waste this effort for it to be effective.

    So frustrating, and I feel for Biden. I remember that I voted for him to get the jerk out of office who was choosing chaos daily. I don’t need Biden to change the world.

  4. Snuffles says:

    I’ve got my stock of KN95 masks. It took a long time for me to find a mask that felt breathable and fit well. I bought way too many versions that I ended up tossing. But these are comfortable enough for me to wear for hours on end and feel safe in when I’m out and about.

  5. Becks1 says:

    This is great news. I’ve just started switching to N95 masks (or KN95 if that’s what I can find) over the past two months or so and I actually like them a lot more than even my favorite cloth masks, because of how they sit over my mouth, makes it easier to talk and breathe, lol. But they are $$$ and hard to find these days, so I’m glad that they will be available to all for free.

  6. Chaine says:

    He should have done this a year ago. I fear it’s too little, too late at this point. Covid is surging massively in my area, schools in session with no remote options, so masks some time in February won’t help.

  7. Beitasitmay says:

    What is this accomplishing other than massive paper in our oceans?

    You know these masks are single-use. Wear it to the grocery store and then it should be tossed. You know people will wear their free germy mask for a month. YUCK!

  8. fluffybunny says:

    I wonder if I have to take my whole family to the pharmacy to get them. Or can I go to the pharmacy that handles my meds and they can see how big my household is and then give me the correct number of masks. My kid is at school and it’s very hard for him to get to a pharmacy.

  9. FancyPants says:

    Don’t get mad, but I feel like these would be better utilized sent to hospitals/nursing homes/schools/etc. The people who won’t wear a paper or cloth mask are definitely not going to wear an N95. Even people who are eager to get some are in for a rough adjustment period of headaches and scabs on their faces. I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid most people are going to put this on once and say “nope, this hurts my face” and the masks will end up in the back of a drawer somewhere, or worse, in the trash.

    • jwoolman says:

      Having free ones to try is more likely to make more people comfortable wearing such a mask.

      I’ve worn such masks embedded with charcoal for decades (to block pollen, mold, fragrances, car exhausts, air pollution) and have never had scabs from them, even wearing them for many hours at a time. And I get headaches if I don’t wear them, not when I do. Maybe you need to switch brands. Look for industrial safety supplies, their equipment is intended for long-term use.

      They are great in cold weather also. No frozen nostril hairs. Breathing in nice warm air without a clunky scarf (especially nice if have to shovel snow).

  10. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    Ordered our covid test kits as well and will DEFINITELY get the masks!!!!
    Thank you Mr. President for making this possible. Despite the opposition this man is doing everything he can to keep us safe.
    On a side note, I am noticing more and more people wearing masks again here in my deeeeeep red part of Tejas. I even saw a dude wearing a Trump2024 shirt and hat and he had a mask on and stood 6 feet behind us. 😲

    • fluffybunny says:

      I feel like you came across the one reasonable Trump supporter. My in laws are in FL and not wearing masks anywhere. My husband told them I had ordered our tests and they said they weren’t bothering. My husband asked if we could use their address and take their tests and they refused. We have a kid in college who is living with roommates and has to do in person classes and ride public transportation so could really use the extra tests to send to him because the website doesn’t recognize a dorm address as a separate residence and they still wouldn’t let me use their address.

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        Oh ugh ugh ugh. I am so sorry about that. If I could I would get one for your son. I am also sorry about your in-laws. I have cut off a number of family members and close friends for the anti vaccine stance.
        Strange as it sounds we have a number of trumpers in our neighborhood who are vaxxed and boosted and follow social distancing. They’re still trumpers, don’t get me wrong

  11. Marla Singer says:

    So glad this is happening even though it should have last year! We were supposed to get free masks delivered in 2020? But the former soulless leader canceled it.
    I hope they are bringing back the pandemic dept that 45 gutted as well. Biden can’t save us, unfortunately America is filled with selfish jerks but I work with the public so I appreciate more n95s!

  12. Eurydice says:

    I also have a cloth mask with a filter. It has a metal strip to mold around my nose, it adjusts around the ears for a tight fit and has in effect 3 layers because of the flaps inside that form the pocket for the filter. I can also put a surgical mask inside it. After that, I figure I can get a hazmat suit or cover myself in trash bags…I don’t know…

  13. fluffybunny says:

    Don’t forget goggles. You can get it through your eyes if they aren’t protected. I thought I might have it at one point and couldn’t figure out where I might have gotten it because I’m always masked and someone pointed out that I could have gotten it in my eyes.

  14. jwoolman says:

    If you have several masks, you can rotate them. The virus won’t survive more than a few days on the surfaces.

    I reuse my disposable charcoal masks until they get dirty or no longer effective against all the fragrances people dunk themselves in and car exhausts. But if I were out and about amongst germy fellow citizens now rather than staying in full Happy Hermit mode, I would either toss or rotate. They’re pricey so that’s another reason to stay home.

    My charcoal masks cost about $4 each now (much more from many vendors, price was $3 pre-COViD) in boxes of 20, and 3M just finally started selling them again to regular people. I was unable to restock since February 2020 and getting nervous. Attempted to buy more last Spring but the vendor couldn’t get the order filled and canceled after two months of trying. Amazon always had them listed as out of stock until just recently.