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U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Ro Khanna (D-CA) sent a letter on Aug. 3 to House and Senate leadership asking for the inclusion of mask-related provisions in an upcoming health and economic legislative package responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the letter calls on Congress to provide for the mass distribution of free facial coverings to all Americans, funding for a public service announcement campaign encouraging mask usage and research into mask efficacy and optimal design.
“As states across the country experience a worrying climb in COVID-19 infection rates, it’s time to take masks seriously as one of the most effective interventions we have against the virus,” Schiff and Khanna wrote in the letter. “We respectfully request the inclusion of these mask-related provisions in the upcoming coronavirus relief package and stand ready to work with you.”
The lawmakers said evidence shows a high level of mask usage reduces transmission of COVID-19 and is perhaps the single most effective step that can be taken to reduce the spread of the virus and prevent the need for stricter measures. Wearing masks is vitally important because many infectious carriers are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, Schiff and Khanna said.
New studies also suggest that masks may reduce the severity of disease for those that become infected by decreasing viral load. In addition to the health benefits, a recent economic analysis estimated that universal mask wearing could save 5% of gross domestic product, of $1 trillion, by making lockdowns unnecessary and getting people back to work earlier, the lawmakers said.
“While nothing short of a vaccine or a cure can truly end the threat of this virus, we must aggressively pursue simple and affordable courses of action that can mitigate infections and save tens of thousands of lives,” the letter read.
For information, visit schiff.house.gov.
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