Postal Updates

USPS planned massive distribution of face masks

Sep 23, 2020, 2 PM
The U.S. Postal Service's plan to distribute face masks was initially developed by the Department of Health and Human Services

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

The United States Postal Service had plans to distribute 650 million face masks — enough for five masks for every household — but dropped the idea after learning the Trump administration feared the act might create panic, the Washington Post reported Sept. 17.

The plan was initially developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, which proposed masks be shipped first to areas hardest hit by the coronavirus, the paper said.

Citing newly available documents released by the watchdog group American Oversight, the Post said the plan had gone as far as the USPS drafting a press release in April with quotations from top postal officials to announce the distribution.

But the Trump administration killed the plan, according to the report in the Post.

“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,” the paper quoted an unnamed Trump administration official as saying.

The Post article said that instead of sending masks to households via the Postal Service, the Department of Health and Human Services developed a $675 million program to distribute cotton face masks “to critical infrastructure sectors, companies, health care facilities, and faith-based and community organizations across the country.”

The newspaper’s disclosure of the mask project came from almost 10,000 pages of documents that American Oversight obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Post said the Postal Service declined to comment on the mask issue.

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