- The Post Office was set to send out 650 million masks
- The Trump administration didn’t want to create a panic
- The Postal Service has been in turmoil for the past several months
An early coronavirus pandemic plan that would have seen the United States Postal Service deliver five reusable masks to each American household was canceled by the Trump administration, according to the Washington Post. Now, newly released documents show how a USPS masks program could have helped in the early days of the pandemic.
In April, USPS officials had actually written a news release that would have announced its plan to send 650 million masks around the country. Those face coverings could have been reused 15 times each, according to CNN. But the idea apparently didn’t interest the federal government’s executive branch.
“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,” then-Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said in the news release that was never actually released, according to CNBC.
After Brennan left her post, Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor and Trump ally, replaced her as Postmaster General, and since then, he’s implemented measures that have drastically slowed down the mail, a huge concern considering the amount of U.S. citizens who plan to vote by mail for the presidential election because of the pandemic.
According to one administration official, the USPS masks plan was apparently nixed because it would have created alarm among Americans in the early days of the pandemic. In recently released audio, Trump told journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately downplayed the deadliness of COVID-19 because he didn’t want to create a panic.
“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 administration official told the Post.
The Department of Health and Human Service said it later distributed about 600 million masks.
Throughout the pandemic, Trump has gone out of his way not to recommend wearing masks, one of the best (and easiest) things people can do to slow the spread of the coronavirus, according to scientists and experts. Though he’s been photographed wearing masks on a handful of occasions, Trump has ripped Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for wearing his own mask while out in public. This week, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said wearing a mask was even more important than a vaccine, but Trump rebuked him for that comment.