US to give out 400 million free N95 masks at CVS, Walgreens
To fight COVID-19 as cases surge all over the world once again in light of the outbreak of omicron, the United States is distributing free N95 masks to combat the surge.
Washington is planning on distributing some 400 million non-surgical N95 masks from the strategic national stockpile for free as of next week, a White House official said, as part of the Biden administration's efforts against the resurging COVID-19 pandemic.
Reportedly, the United States is leveraging the "federal retail pharmacy program" it had used for vaccines, as well as federally funded health clinics serving minority groups hit affected by COVID.
The pharmacies the US government will be handing out masks to retail chain CVS, with a little short of 10,000 locations in the United States, and Wallgreens, with more than 9,000 locations. The masks will be handed out for free starting next week.
This move comes in light of mounting criticism for the Biden administration over its lackluster response to COVID-19 after his campaign promises to prioritize the pandemic.
Consumer demand for N95s and other protective masks has spiked in recent days as public fears mount alongside cases.
Despite hospitals recovering from the mask shortages early on in the pandemic, the healthcare supply chains are still fragile with the huge public demand for medical supplies.
US mask makers have the capabilities to make millions of N95 masks per month, with the largest manufacturer, 3M, having the capacity to manufacture some 2 billion at factories across the states and elsewhere in the world.