Biden says he will make free masks available and order another half-billion Covid tests for mailing

By Andrew Feinberg

President Joe Biden said his administration will unveil a plan to provide free masks to Americans, to encourage their use in order to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Biden also said on Thursday that his administration will order another half-billion at-home Covid-19 tests for mailing to any American who requests one on a yet-to-be unveiled website, adding to a previous order of 500 million placed by the administration last month.

“We ... have helped make sure that high-quality masks are widely available and in ample supply at affordable prices sold online and in stores, but for some Americans the mask is not always affordable or convenient to get,” Mr Biden said.

“So next week we'll announce how we're making high-quality masks available to ... the American people for free”.

The president said he understood how “we all wish we that we could finally be done with wearing masks”, but called them a “really important tool” to stop the spread of the highly transmittable Omicron variant of Sars-CoV-2.

Mr Biden said his administration has seen “real improvement” in efforts to implement widespread Covid testing across the US and will have conducted approximately 15 million tests per day by the end of this month in addition to 375 million at-home tests taken by Americans in this month alone.

The president said the promised website is “on track” to be rolled out next week, through which Americans would be able to order the 500 million free at-home Covid-19 tests his administration has ordered for delivery through the mail. He added that he is directing his Covid-19 response team to procure an additional 500 million tests “to meet future demand”.

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