Biden says will provide free cloth masks to low-income people

Feb 25 , 2021. 4 hours ago – 05:57 KYODO NEWS

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address in Washington on Jan. 20, 2021. (Getty/Kyodo)

WASHINGTON – The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden said Wednesday it will deliver more than 25 million free masks to communities still lacking affordable access to the basic protection against the coronavirus pandemic.

In Japan last year, the government’s distribution of two washable cloth face masks per household — which earned the nickname “Abenomask,” meaning “Abe’s mask,” after then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — backfired due to the masks’ poor quality and slow delivery to the public.

A White House official said the masks to be distributed in the United States will be “high-quality, American-made” cloth masks.

They will be delivered to over 1,300 community health centers serving people in poverty so that individuals can pick them up, and also handed out through food distribution points.

Recipients will be encouraged to take an individually wrapped package of two masks for each person in their household, according to the White House.

In an effort to tackle the pandemic that has killed more than half a million people in the United States, the Biden administration has continued to encourage people to “mask up.”

Under the administration of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, masks became a divisive issue depending on political affiliation. Republican Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat of the pandemic and showed reluctance to wear a mask.

As a result of the upcoming Democratic administration’s actions, an estimated 12 to 15 million Americans will receive masks, the White House said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his office in Tokyo on Aug. 26, 2020, wearing a face mask amid concerns over the novel coronavirus. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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