The Biden administration plans to distribute 400 million high-quality N95 masks for adults free of charge starting next week, in the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history, a White House official said on the condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement.
The program will make three masks available per adult and is expected to be fully operational by early February. It comes as the omicron coronavirus variant drives record levels of infections and hospitalizations, prompting health officials to urge masking as a key tool to contain the virus. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided its most explicit guidance so far on masks: The agency said well-fitting masks such as approved N95 products offered “the highest level of protection” compared with cloth coverings and other masks.
Here’s what to know
- The U.S. government’s website to order free rapid coronavirus tests, covidtests.gov, officially launches Wednesday.
- The World Health Organization’s chief scientist said there was “no evidence right now” that healthy children and adolescents need booster shots amid global vaccine inequity.
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