The White House plans to announce an initiative to distribute hundreds of millions of free N95 masks through pharmacies and community sites on Wednesday, Politico reported.
President Joe Biden's administration will use masks from the government's Strategic National Stockpile, three sources familiar with the initiative told Politico.
The initiative comes at a time when public health experts are urging Americans to swap their cloth masks for the more protective N95s in light of the more transmissible Omicron variant.
"While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection," according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Friday.
Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services' Preparedness and Response division, said there were 737 million N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile, according to the Politico report.
The effort is meant to help Americans access affordable and safe masks — something the Biden administration has been lobbied on in recent weeks, Politico reported.
The White House has also required private health insurance companies to cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests a month for each covered individual. Additionally, on Tuesday, the government launched a site where each American household could order four free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests. The program is expected to launch on Wednesday.
The White House did not respond to Insider's email request for comment.