WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) — President Joe Biden plans to have 400 million non-surgical N95 masks distributed to Americans through pharmacies and health centers.
The 400 million masks will come from the Strategic National Stockpile and represent more than half of its 750 million reserved masks.
“The administration plans to make the masks available at tens of thousands of pharmacies and health centers by early February,” Politico reported, based on conversations with administration officials.
“I know we all wish that we could finally be done with wearing masks,” Biden said on January 13. “I get it. But they’re a really important tool to stop the spread, especially of a highly transmittable Omicron variant.”
“Masking is an important tool to control the spread of COVID-19,” the president said. “And when you’re indoors in public places, you should wear the mask.”
Biden previously told Americans that he would mandate masks wherever he could, including in government buildings. He called masking a “patriotic act” that would only be needed for 100 more days to defeat COVID.
“We can save tens of thousands of lives if everyone just wears a mask for the next few months. So please, I implore you, wear a mask,” Biden said.
The increased push for masking comes as the omicron variant becomes the dominant strain of COVID in the United States.
A Kaiser Permanente Southern California study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported a low risk of hospitalization and death from over 52,000 cases of the omicron variant.
The report identified a .5 percent hospitalization rate from the omicron and zero cases of people requiring ventilators. It does not include those who contracted omicron in the region of the study and did not obtain a test due to the mild symptoms of a runny nose or sore throat.
A number of experts and studies have suggested that wearing a mask is not only inefficient at slowing the spread of COVID-19 but could also have harmful effect on people’s physical and mental health, particularly children.