Free N95 masks: Federal government to distribute more than 400 million masks

The federal government will ship more than 400 million N95 face masks to distribution sites around the country this week, making them available free of charge to Americans, the White House is expected to announce Wednesday.

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The masks will be available at pharmacies and community sites beginning late next week, Politico reported. Each person will be limited to three masks, according to an administration official who was not named in Politico’s report.

President Joe Biden is expected to lay out the plan for distributing the masks at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“To ensure accessing these masks is easy and convenient, the administration is leveraging the federal retail pharmacy program and the federal community health center program, so that free masks are available at many of the same convenient and trusted locations Americans go to get vaccinated and boosted,” the official said.

The announcement comes on the day a website that allows Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests is officially launched.

The masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, three sources familiar with the plan told Politico.

According to testimony before a Senate committee Tuesday from Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, the federal government has 737 million N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile. Those masks come from 12 domestic manufacturers.