Amidst rising COVID-19 case numbers across the nation, Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation aimed at providing all Americans with free N95 masks.
In July of 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders lead the charge to provide Americans with the masks needed to curb the spread of COVID-19. While his "Masks for All Act" did not make it to vote two years ago, Sen. Sanders has not given up, reintroducing the act on Tuesday alongside over 50 Democrats.
The new bill aims to "provide, manufacture, and distribute high quality N95 respirator masks for every individual in the United States during the COVID–19 pandemic using the Defense Production Act and other means."
The bill goes on to state that every person in the US, even those who cannot provide proof of citizenship, would be eligible to receive three N95 masks, and that the masks would be delivered via the US Postal Service.
According to The Hill, the "Masks for All Act" would allocate $5 billion for the manufacturing and distribution of N95 masks, which experts have stated offer much better protection against COVID-19 than basic face coverings like surgical masks or fabric masks.
"As we face the rapidly spreading omicron variant, we should remember that not all face masks are created equal," Sen. Sanders said, urging Congress to "demand the mass production and distribution of N95 masks, one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the Covid virus."
He went on to state that "it is an absolute scandal that in the richest country in the history of the world, high-quality masks are not more readily available to frontline workers, health care workers, and all Americans."
Despite these calls for better promotion of N95 masks, the CDC has stated that it will not change its guidance on masks to urge Americans to wear higher-quality ones, with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stating that people need to feel comfortable in them so they wear them.