Biden Administration to Distribute 400 Million Free N95 Face Masks Nationwide

White House officials say free face masks should be available at pharmacies and community health centers in early February

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Photo: Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock

The Biden administration will be distributing millions of free face masks across the country in another effort to combat the latest surge of COVID-19 cases and the highly contagious omicron variant.

On Wednesday, White House officials announced a plan to provide 400 million non-surgical N95 masks at pharmacies and community health centers nationwide, CNN reported.

"This is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history," an official told the outlet, adding that the program should be "fully up and running by early February."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidelines for face masks. With the omicron variant of COVID-19 continuing to spread at an alarming rate, some medical experts are urging everyone to stop using cloth masks.

"Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. There's no place for them in light of omicron," CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, said last month.

"We need to be wearing at least a three-ply surgical mask," she also said, adding that ideally, "you should be wearing a KN95 or N95 mask," which also is in conflict with the CDC — who still says that masks "specially labeled 'surgical' N95 respirators ... should be prioritized for healthcare personnel."

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The Biden administration's upcoming mask rollout comes shortly after news that all Americans are now able to request free rapid COVID-19 tests sent directly to their homes.

As of Tuesday, each household in the U.S. can order up to four rapid test kits at

"Every home in the U.S. can soon order 4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests will be completely free — there are no shipping costs and you don't need to enter a credit card number," a statement on the website reads.

In order to receive the free tests, users will be asked for their names and address and will receive the tests in seven to 12 days.

Along with the 500 million free COVID-19 rapid tests the Biden administration has purchased for the initial rollout, they plan to distribute 500 million more in the coming months. In total, the Biden administration is aiming to distribute 1 billion COVID-19 rapid tests nationwide for free.

"We're not saying we're stopping there," an administration official said of the first 500 million tests during a conference call, per Reuters.

The administration also plans to also launch a phone line to help people who do not have access to the Internet and need to order tests.

As of Jan. 18, the U.S. is seeing an average of 756,752 new COVID-19 cases a day, according to The New York Times, and 156,894 Americans are currently hospitalized with the virus.

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