White House giving away millions of N-95 masks

Photo credit (Getty Images)
By , KYW Newsradio

One in five Americans has been infected with COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Now the Biden administration is giving away 400 million high-quality N-95 masks to help slow the spread of the virus and making free at-home COVID-19 tests available to every household in the country.

Case counts are plateauing, even declining, in the Philadelphia region and in the northeastern part of the country. The 14-day case average of COVID-19 infections in Philadelphia is now down by 25% since what experts believe to have been the peak on Jan. 8. However, the U.S. surgeon general says the national peak has yet to come.

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The masks are coming from the Strategic National Stockpile. Since January of last year, the supply of N-95s in the stockpile has grown to over 750 million.

They are expected to be distributed through pharmacies and community health centers starting next week.

The CDC says that cloth masks are not the most protective option against the omicron variant. Last week, the agency updated its guidance to encourage everyone to ditch cloth masks in favor of higher-quality options, such as surgical masks or N-95s and KN-95s.

Many health experts have been saying all along that access to quick and accurate at-home testing is vital to getting out of this pandemic. And now the Biden administration is finally providing free tests to every household.

A website to sign up for free rapid at-home COVID-19 tests had a quiet launch on Tuesday, a day earlier than expected. Each household is limited to only four tests, regardless of how many people live there. The U.S. Postal Service will ship them for free. To sign up, go to COVIDtests.gov.

People who have private health insurance can be reimbursed for up to eight COVID-19 tests per month, for tests bought after Jan. 15.

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