WASHINGTON, United States– President Joe Biden’s administration announced Wednesday it will distribute some 400 million high-quality N95 masks for free to Americans as part of its effort to rein in the coronavirus pandemic.

US President Joe Biden (AFP/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The masks will be made available beginning next week at tens of thousands of distribution points nationwide, particularly pharmacies and community health centers, and will kick into full gear in February, according to the White House.

“This is the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history,” an unnamed White House official said in a statement.

Faced with the surge of the Omicron variant, the White House is also focusing on expanding Covid-19 testing. On Tuesday it launched a website where each American household can order free tests, to be performed at home.

The government aims to distribute one billion rapid tests in the United States, the country whose Covid-19 death toll of 853,000 is the world’s highest.