The masks will reportedly be available for Americans to pick up for free at pharmacies and health centers.
The Biden administration reportedly plans to distribute roughly 400 million N95 masks to the public as COVID-19 cases surge in the US, driven by the omicron variant. The masks will be available through pharmacies and community health centers by early February for people to pick up for free, Politico reported Tuesday, citing a White House official.
The nonsurgical N95 masks will reportedly come from the government's Strategic National Stockpile.
As a result of the omicron variant's spread, some cities and states have reinstated mask mandates, and federal mask mandates have been extended until March 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization agree that properly wearing a mask over your nose and mouth has been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Last week, the CDC updated guidance on its website to encourage people to wear "the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently," noting that N95 masks offer the highest level of protection. Still, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a briefing that "any mask is better than no mask."
In another effort to combat COVID-19, the government's COVIDTests.gov website went live on Tuesday, allowing Americans to order four free COVID-19 tests per household.
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.