White House Reportedly Blocked USPS From Sending 650 Million Face Masks To Americans

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Mario Tama/Getty

The never-released draft was a part of documentation turned over to a watchdog group

The United States Postal Service (USPS) planned to distribute 650 million reusable cotton face masks to Americans last spring (five masks per household), according to USPS internal documents discovered by a watchdog group. The White House allegedly disallowed the plan because they were worried it may cause people to “panic” about the pandemic.

The announcement, which was never released, was among 10,000 pages of USPS documentation turned over to American Oversight in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, according to ABC News. The documents showed a lack of communication and concern over their employee’s safety as the country grappled with how to deal with the pandemic in the early days.

According to the draft, the USPS, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, planned to send masks to areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates at the time, including Louisiana’s Orleans and Jefferson parishes; King County, Washington; New York; and Wayne County, Michigan.

“Our organization is uniquely suited to undertake this historic mission of delivering face coverings to every American household in the fight against the COVID-19 virus,” the then-postmaster general and CEO, Megan J. Brennan, said in the prepared release.

In April, the CDC began recommending that everyone wear facial coverings, particularly when social distancing wasn’t possible. While there was concern that the widespread use of masks would add to the PPE shortage, by mid-July, CDC director Robert Redfield made it clear that face coverings could help prevent the spread of the virus. “If we all wore face coverings for the next four, six, eight, 12 weeks, across the nation, this virus transmission would stop,” he said.

“There was concern from some in the White House Domestic Policy Council and the office of the vice president that households receiving masks might create concern or panic,” one administration official told The Washington Post about the proposal. Apparently, though, “there was concern from some in the White House Domestic Policy Council and the office of the vice president that households receiving masks might create concern or panic.”

Instead, the initiative, announced by the Trump administration under the “Project: America Strong,” was seen by the White House as a more targeted use of funds that would send masks to critical infrastructure sectors, companies and health care, community, and religious organizations.

“I see President Trump’s fingerprints all over,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “It’s clear from the president’s public comments, and the actions of his administration, he has a major agenda for the post office — and we see a lot of it in black and white here.”

This, coupled with the Woodward interviews where Trump admitted to downplaying the virus, leaves many Americans wondering how much more could have been done to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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