From The Washington Post:
At one point in April, USPS leaders drafted a news release announcing plans to distribute 650 million masks nationwide, enough to offer five face coverings to every American household. The document, which includes quotations from top USPS officials and other specifics, was never sent.
Before the news release was sent, however, the White House nixed the plan, according to senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal deliberations. Instead, HHS created Project America Strong, a $675 million effort to distribute “reusable cotton face masks to critical infrastructure sectors, companies, healthcare facilities, and faith-based and community organizations across the country.” About 600 million of the 650 million masks ordered have been distributed, according to an HHS spokesperson, including 125 million set aside for schools.
“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 said in response to the scrapped mask plan.
It was killed because it might create panic. Sure, there was an alternative pursued instead. But panic may have been precisely what was needed to stem the initial mass spread of COVID-19!
Following in the footsteps of other Trump Administration behavior, the goal seems less about keeping people calm and more about hoping to avoid panic for political purposes.
Trump plainly admits this himself, framing his arguments about why things ain’t so bad in terms of red versus blue states:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that if you excluded blue states, America’s Covid-19 death numbers would look much better. “If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at,” he said at a White House press conference.