The spike in coronavirus cases has led to a shortage of resources needed to combat an outbreak. As a result, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is set to introduce a bill on Tuesday that will provide high quality, reusable masks to every American.
CNN reports that Sanders will introduce this legislation to his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate. The bill will call for the United States Postal Service to deliver the masks which will be picked up from sites around the country and be provided to citizens for free. The homeless, college students in dorms, patients in assisted living facilities, inmates, and more will be given these free masks with the money coming from the United States defense budget.
"If we can afford a $740 billion defense budget, we can afford to send every American a face mask," one of the bill's sponsors, California Rep. Ro Khanna, said in a statement per CNN. "We are the wealthiest country on Earth, yet our health care workers are still facing a shortage of N-95s, our essential workers are having to purchase their own protective face masks, and far too many vulnerable Americans are being left to figure out how to procure this basic need."
This comes after more than half the states in America have enforced some form of mask-related regulations. Although some Americans reject the idea, wearing a mask could actually save the economy. Goldman Sachs recently released a study that claims that a nation-wide "mask-wearing mandate" could "substitute for renewed broad lockdowns." This would prevent the gross domestic product from dropping 5 percent, saving the country close to $1 trillion.
In addition to helping the economy, wearing a mask will also save lives. President Trump is now encouraging mask use and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he would support any legislation that makes masks more accessible.
"There's no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected. So it's people protecting each other," Fauci said of Sanders' plan. "Anything that furthers the use of masks, whether it is giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of."
Sanders is expecting push back from some Republican officials, but he's confident that the majority will side with him and approve this plan.
"I think what the Republicans (in Congress) now understand is that Trump's decision-making during this pandemic has been an absolute disaster," Sanders said per CNN. "He downplayed the crisis, said it would go away, came up with quack cures, rejected the idea of people wearing masks, held a rally indoors where people had no social distancing. And I think Republicans understand that if they cannot convince the American people that they at least understand that it is imperative that we start listening to scientists, I think they're going to be in deep trouble."