What Might Have Been: White House Killed USPS Plans to Deliver Masks to Every US Residence

The United States Postal Service (USPS) was poised in April to deliver 650 million face masks to every U.S. residential address but the White House killed the plan out of fear it might provoke panic and run counter to Donald Trump’s efforts to downplay the coronavirus pandemic.

That aborted plan to combat the spread of the disease was uncovered in documents obtained by the ethics watchdog group American Oversight through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It was first reported Thursday by the Washington Post.


According to the Post, “the idea originated out of the Department of Health and Human Services, which suggested a pack of five reusable masks be sent to every residential address in the country, with the first shipments going to the hardest-hit areas.” Orleans and Jefferson parishes in Louisiana were designated as the first areas to receive the masks, with King County, Wash.; Wayne County, Mich.; and New York deliveries to quickly follow.

At that time – the height of the spring pandemic surge – the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was drafting its recommendations that face coverings be used to prevent the spread of the virus. Touting its unique ability to reach every corner of the country, USPS drafted a news release that was all set to be distributed before the White House nixed the plan.


“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 administration official told the Post.

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