WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The White House says it will deliver 25 million masks to the most vulnerable Americans. The announcement comes one day after the Biden administration ramped up weekly vaccine shipments to states.
“These masks will be available at no cost,” said Jeff Zients, COVID-19 response team coordinator. “They will be well-fitting cloth masks available in childrens’ and adult sizes.”
Zients says between March and May, the White House will send the American-made masks to more than 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens nationwide.
“With this action, we are hoping to level the playing field, giving vulnerable populations quality, well-fitting masks,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
On Tuesday, the White House says the states will also now receive 14.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine every week. Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) says states like Texas have been scrambling to catch up on vaccinations following last week’s deadly winter storms.
“The delivery of vaccines were delayed … because people couldn’t transport them,” Cuellar said.
To keep up with the federal shipments, Zients says 1,200 National Guard troops are being deployed to serve as vaccinators.
“We have also deployed 1,000 federal personnel to support community vaccination sites in operational and support roles,” Zients said.
And pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, the White House says it is prepared to send 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as next week.