Biden administration sending masks to poor communities

Why it matters: The initiative comes nearly a year after Trump administration health officials first internally explored whether to send masks to every American in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread — an idea that was rejected at the time.

Public health experts have since pushed for reviving the concept as a way of reaching underserved communities and emphasizing the importance of mask wearing. Those advocates included members of President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, who had sketched out rough plans for what masks the government should send and how it should deliver them to the entire U.S. population, according to a person familiar with the conversations.

Zients on Wednesday said such a sweeping initiative would have been a “good idea” months ago, but he noted that masks are now widely available for most people.

The administration’s initiative will be more limited by comparison, with plans to distribute the cloth masks among roughly 1,300 health centers and 300 food banks. About two-thirds of people served by community health centers are living in poverty, the administration said.