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Jan. 19, 2022, 6:30 a.m. EST

Coronavirus tally: White House to offer 400 million N95 masks to Americans from national stockpile

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By Ciara Linnane

The White House will announce plans later Wednesday to offer 400 million N95 masks to Americans for free at pharmacies and community health centers across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported. The masks will be sourced from the national strategic stockpile and the program will start next week, a White House official told the paper. The move comes as part of a stepped-up government response to the surge in cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant and after the CDC said single-layer cloth masks are not enough to protect against infection. The administration launched its covidtests.gov site offering at-home tests on Tuesday, a day ahead of its official launch date. The omicron variant has pushed U.S. new cases to a record high of about 800,000 a day, although cases appear to be peaking in northeastern states that were among the first to be hit hard. New York City, Cleveland, Chicago and Washington, D.C. are showing case numbers level off and start to fall, according to a New York Times tracker. Hospitalizations are averaging 156,894 a day, up 47% from two weeks ago, and daily deaths are close to 1,900, up 43% from two weeks ago. On a global basis, the total tally for COVID-19 cases hiked up above 334.3 million and the death toll rose above 5.55 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world with a total COVID-19 case count of 67.6 million and death toll of 854,074.

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