- The White House scuttled a plan to partner with the US Postal Service to send every American a face mask, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
- A draft press release obtained by The Post showed that the Postal Service was preparing to send out 650 million face masks in April to supply every household with them.
- However, a senior administration official told The Post that the White House nixed the plan because officials thought “receiving masks might create concern or panic.”
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The White House scrapped a plan by the US Postal Service to send every American household a face mask in April, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing documents obtained through public-records requests.
The Post obtained thousands of internal Postal Service documents that revealed previously unreported details of the agency’s struggle to deal with the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The documents showed that in early April, after public-health experts began recommending face masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, some officials at the Department of Health and Human Services suggested that the Postal Service, an agency that delivers mail to the entire country, could be uniquely positioned to deliver packs of reusable masks to every American household.
A draft press release obtained by The Post showed that the Postal Service was preparing to send out 650 million masks, first targeting areas like Louisiana, Michigan, and New York, which at the time were experiencing particularly severe outbreaks of COVID-19.
But the White House immediately put the kibosh on the idea when it caught wind of the plan, multiple Trump administration officials told The Post, with one official saying: “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 USPS had a plan to send 5 reusable facemarks to every household in early April. Even had a press release ready.
The White House blocked the plan.
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) September 17, 2020
As of Thursday, over 6.6 million Americans had tested positive for COVID-19, and over 196,000 had died of the disease, according to The New York Times.
In recent days, President Donald Trump has come under renewed scrutiny for his handling of the pandemic after the veteran journalist Bob Woodward released his latest book, “Rage,” which extensively documented Trump’s response to the pandemic as it was unfolding. Woodward conducted 18 on-the-record interviews with Trump.
In a tape from early February released by Woodward, Trump indicated he knew that the virus was airborne and could be more deadly than the seasonal flu, despite underplaying the risk in public.
And in a subsequent tape from March, Trump acknowledged to Woodward that he deliberately downplayed the virus to avoid alarming the nation, even as significant community transmission was already occurring.
“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward in a tape from March 19 after he moved to restrict travel from Europe and declared a national emergency, as CNN noted. “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”