The White House rejected a U.S. Postal Service proposal to send face masks to every household in the U.S., according to The Washington Post.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reportedly suggested the idea in April, proposing five reusable masks be delivered to every residential address and prioritizing areas with the worst coronavirus outbreaks. The Postal Service also prepared a news release saying it would send the first shipments to Louisiana’s Orleans and Jefferson parishes, according to a draft obtained by the Post. Masks would then go to King County, Wash., Wayne County, Mich., and New York.
However, the White House reportedly vetoed the plan, instead creating the Project America Strong initiative. The $675 million initiative has distributed about 600 million masks to vulnerable and critical sectors thus far, according to HHS.
“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,” an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Post.
Emails obtained by the Post also indicated that postal workers felt they were left without protection as the pandemic intensified.
“I literally was on the phone today with many of my members screaming at me to do something [and] I don’t want to die,” one union official wrote, noting that postal workers were confirmed to have contracted the virus in late March. “You cannot expect the unions to convince the employees that if they come to work they have nothing to worry about.”
Although the Postal Service said a week later that it would increase its stock of personal protective equipment, then-Postmaster General Megan Brennan continued receiving frantic correspondence, the Post noted. One woman, who said her spouse was a mail carrier in Pennsylvania, demanded to know “WHY IN GOD’S NAME ARE THEY DELIVERING UNESSENTIAL MAIL to EVERY HOUSE in a HIGHLY INFECTED AREA!!!!”
President TrumpDonald John TrumpBarr criticizes DOJ in speech declaring all agency power ‘is invested in the attorney general’ Military leaders asked about using heat ray on protesters outside White House: report Powell warns failure to reach COVID-19 deal could ‘scar and damage’ economy MORE has repeatedly questioned the broad agreement among experts that masks work to slow the spread of the virus.
He has rarely worn one himself and has spoken at rallies with hundreds of largely maskless attendees.
The U.S. has recorded almost 200,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, along with more than 6.6 million cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Updated at 1 p.m.