Late. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) On Wednesday reintroduced legislation that would allow the federal government to send three N95 respirator masks to every person in America.
Sanders first introduced the legislation, called the Masks for All Act, in the summer of 2020, but Congress did not put it to the vote. But as the highly transferable omicron variant continues to spread, Sanders urged lawmakers to use this second option to arm all Americans with better protective equipment.
“It is an absolute scandal that high-quality masks in the richest country in world history are not readily available to frontline workers, health care workers and all Americans,” Sanders said in a statement Wednesday.
More than 50 congressional Democrats are backing the bill, Sanders’ office said.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Who is co-sponsoring the House version of the bill, reiterated Sanders, saying Congress should prioritize this type of spending.
“If we can afford a $ 778 billion defense budget, we can afford to send N95 masks to all Americans to keep people safe as Omicron cases rise,” he wrote in a statement.
The Masks for All Act would suit $ 5 billion for domestic manufacture, procurement and distribution of N95 meshes which filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. Recent data shows that such masks protect users from omicron-infected, dewormed people for up to two and a half hours – compared to only 20 to 30 minutes of protection from cloth or surgical masks.
Washington Post reported Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon formally recommend people wear these better masks. It is a shift away from its previous guidance, which was drafted when there was a shortage of N95 masks and the agency was needed to ensure that health professionals had access to them.
“We suggest that we do what our public health experts and scientists say we should do: provide all our people with high-quality N95 masks at no cost, which can prevent death and suffering and save huge amounts of health care,” he says. Sanders said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, counterfeit N95 masks have spread as customers struggle for better protection. The CDC estimates that 60% of the masks are marketed as N95 are fake.
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