Rep. Adam Schiff Introduces Bill That Would Provide Free Cloth Face Masks

As health experts and officials encourage people to wear masks as part of an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, House Rep. Adam Schiff introduced legislation today that would provide a free cloth face mask to any American via United State mail.

“As many states, including California, experience a worrying climb in COVID-19 infection rates, it's time to take seriously one of the most effective interventions we have -- masks and face coverings. Simply put, masks work,'' Schiff said.

“Study after study has found that high rates of mask adoption impede the spread of the virus, and that countries where mask wearing is universal have been far more successful than the United States in preventing infection,'' he said. “It's time for the federal government and our leaders to make crystal clear to the American people that wearing masks when you're out in public and around others saves lives.''

Gov. Gavin Newsom made similar statements about masks during a press conference he delivered Wednesday on the state's response to COVID-19. Newsom pointed to a recent spike in statewide coronavirus cases, as well as increasing numbers of people testing positive and hospitalizations. He asked Californians Wednesday to wear their masks while they go out in public as well as take precautions to help stop the spread of the virus.

“We cannot support bad behaviors, but we want to encourage and support good behavior,'' Newsom said. “And if counties simply are going to (flout) the rules and regulations that they attested to, the information that they put online and said, `We agreed to this criteria.' ... If they decide, `well, you know what, even though the numbers are going up, we're done, we've got this, we're just going to ... dismiss these new rules and regulations' -- we're going to attach some considerations, some consequences to that. There's $2.5 billion in this budget that simply will not flow to those counties that do that.''

The legislation, which is co-sponsored by 29 other lawmakers, is titled The Masks Work Act and directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a program to send cloth face coverings to anyone who requests one, free of charge. Additionally, the legislation directs the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a PSA campaign that would use health and medical experts to explain why face coverings are recommended.

The legislation also directs funding for the National Institutes of Health to conduct further research into how effective cloth face coverings are in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“Finally, the bill expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that masks and face coverings are an effective and cost-efficient step to control the spread of COVID-19, and that all leaders should encourage Americans to adopt them and model that behavior by wearing masks themselves,'' according to a statement released by Schiff's office.

Photo: Getty Images

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