The Trump administration blocked 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.
Thousands of internal Postal Service documents obtained by The Post revealed previously unreported details of the agency’s struggle to deal with the White House’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 rejected the idea when it found out about the plan, multiple Trump administration officials told 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,” One official said, according to the report.
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.