Congress Is Providing KN95s to Lawmakers. What About the Rest of Us?

With Capitol Hill — like much of the United States — experiencing a major spikeIn Covid-19 cases, members and their offices will reportedly be given KN95 masks to stop the spread of Omicron variant, which is highly contagious.

As much as Congress and the Biden administration ignore, the public has been left to its own devices. callsFor action to ensure widespread distribution High-quality masks.

According to An email sent to House staffers last Wednesday and obtained by the Washington Post, “The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) has updated its PPE monthly allotment program to include KN95 masks for all House offices” as experts warn Omicron transmission can be prevented by using cloth masks, which are widely used.

“The Office of Attending Physician (OAP) supports CDC guidelines recommending the use of a face cover such as the KN95 mask when in public spaces, particularly when a six-foot separation cannot be maintained between two individuals,” reads the email, which was sent after the U.S. Capitol’s attending physician raised alarm over an “unprecedented” surge in coronavirus infections.

Under the new allocation program, each House office in Washington, D.C., will receive 40 KN95 Masks per month.

“This is so grotesque,” said Yale epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves. “Members of Congress (and White House staff) have full access to good masks (and I bet tests too!). The little people — meaning the rest of us — are on our own.”

Abraar Karan, a physician and infectious disease expert at Stanford University, noted in response to the new House safety protocol that “there are unprecedented infections around the entire country!”

“What about the general public?” he asked.

As the Omicron variant continues its ravaging of the population, the U.S. currently sees an average of 700,000 coronavirus cases per days. pushing up hospitalizations Overburdened healthcare systems are strained.

Capitol physician Brian Monahan wrote in a letter to lawmakers that, in order to combat the latest coronavirus wave, high-quality face coverings are “a critical necessity unless the individual is alone in a closed office space or eating or drinking in a food service area.”

Monahan stated that 61% of Capitol Hill cases were Omicron-related based upon a limited number of positive tests.

Last month, Omicron was found in every state in the U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt. urged Congress to guarantee the mass production of and distribution of N95 Masks to all households.

Sanders will be retiring in July 2020 introduced legislation that would have required the federal government to manufacture and deliver high-quality masks to every person in the country — but the bill has gone nowhere.

The Biden administration is currently working on a plan. distribute The U.S. government offers free coronavirus testing at home to all households who request it, but has not taken similar action regarding masks. Some local governments are now giving away free masks, despite the lack of federal leadership.

“With this variant, it’s really good to have an upgraded mask,” Nick Tomaro of the Milwaukee Health Department said The city launched its mask distribution campaign. “This is the opportunity to get it.”

N95 shortages can be a problem not currently They were as acute in the later stages of the pandemic. genuine masks It can be difficult to find these items, especially in an online marketplace. awash in counterfeits.

“Not all face masks are created equal,” Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted Sunday. “N95 face masks are far more effective than cloth masks in preventing the spread of Covid. We must utilize the Defense Production Act to mass produce these masks and distribute them to every household in the country.”