Trump White House blocked effort to mail every US household face masks

USPS wanted to send every American a set of face masks but the White House said no

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According to NBC News, the White House struck down a measure to send hundreds of millions of cloth masks to American households. The face coverings would have gone out via the United States Postal Service in April.

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Instead of that happening, a senior Trump administration official reportedly said selected businesses, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal agencies received 600M masks. The mask distribution program was called Project America Strong.

The Washington Post first reported that the Trump administration initially planned to send masks to the households of U.S. residents across the country. 

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A digital sign displays a message about wearing masks at the Tropicana Las Vegas after the Las Vegas Strip resort reopened for the first time since mid-March because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on September 17, 2020 (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

This reportedly came after an internal email from The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was sent in response to an inquiry from a nongovernmental entity asking why the Trump administration did not move forward with the plan.

NBC reported that In the email, a senior HHS official says that the White House made the decision not to move forward because cloth face masks were widely available from a number of vendors and easily accessible to the American public. 

The White House has not commented on the issue. 

The Washington Post found that the masks would have been distributed to homes in areas with a high number of cases in April. At the time, cases were surging in parishes in Louisiana and areas of Washington state, Michigan, and New York state among other hot spots across the US.

In early May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services paid a group of textile manufacturers $640M to make masks under Project America Strong. The largest contract went to Hanes who reportedly created 450M masks between the months of May and July. 

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HHS did set up a website where Americans could request a box of 500 masks each. But In July, an HHS spokesperson said the agency had run out of masks.

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