With a lot of focus on free at-home test kits, Senator Bernie Sanders says masks are just as crucial in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and that they too, should be available for free.
Sanders says every American should have a mask in hand, specifically N-95 masks. On Wednesday, he introduced legislation that would mass produce N95 masks and send a package of three to everyone in the U.S.
That includes people experiencing homelessness, the incarcerated population, and students living in dorms. In a statement, Sanders says it would prevent death, suffering, and save health care dollars. “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.”
This is a renewed push as Sanders first introduced his ‘Mask For All’ Act in summer of 2020, just a few months into the pandemic. Health experts have long pleaded with federal officials to more forcefully say that some masks are better than others.
Dr. Ashish Jha, who leads Brown University’s School of Public Health says not all masks are created equal. “The most important mask, the best mask is the one you’ll wear all day so if you can figure out a good well-fitting mask that fits your nose and mouth, that’s the most critical,” said Dr. Jha. “No doubt about it, KN95s, N95s, a series of masks much higher quality. I wear them all day in the hospital. That’s what I recommend if people can do that in indoor settings. Wear a mask you can tolerate all day is the most important.”
Sanders adds that this move will also allow the U.S to rely less on China for face masks, and other materials. The CDC says it is planning to update mask guidance to reflect the different options available and the different levels of protection provided.