- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2021

President Biden on Tuesday suggested there are plans in the works for his administration to facilitate sending out millions of masks to Americans as part of a public health campaign to maintain vigilance during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There [are] so many things that we can do that are just within our own power,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re probably going to be sending out an awful lot of masks around the country very shortly — millions of them.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said this month there was a range of options under consideration on getting masks directly to Americans but that no final decisions had been made.

Mr. Biden was speaking as part of a virtual discussion with four Black “essential” workers on Tuesday.

The president spoke with Demetris “Al” Alfred, a firefighter from Missouri, Melanie Owens, a pharmacist from Illinois, Carmen Palmer, a child care worker in Ohio, and Jeff Carter, a district grocery store manager in Iowa.

“We need you for real, OK?” Mr. Biden said. “You are the ones that keep us going.”

He plugged individual provisions of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, like an expanded child credit, $350 billion for states and localities, and direct checks of up to $1,400 for millions of Americans.

He said if Congress does pass the plan, there won’t be many votes to spare.

“I believe if we get this bill passed, which we’re not going to pass by a lot, but we’re optimistic, we’re going to make some real changes,” he said.

Republicans say they’ve been left out of the negotiating process and that the White House isn’t interested in cutting costs or leaving out extraneous items.

Democrats have the numbers to pass the package without GOP votes if they have unified support in the Senate.

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