States would be able to access a new batch of federal funding by adopting clear face covering or mask mandates during the pandemic under a new bill U.S. Sen. Ed Markey announced Wednesday.
The bill, which Markey filed alongside Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, would infuse the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund with another $5 billion available to states with mask mandates in place. It would also distribute a total of $75 million in grants to help states promote the use of masks and face coverings in public and require their use on federal property.
The senators described their legislation as a crucial public health action — Blumenthal called mask-wearing “a moral and health mandate” — as the country grapples with widespread rapid transmission of the highly infectious virus. “Masks and face coverings are the essential public health tool to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Markey said in a statement. “As President-elect (Joe) Biden recognizes, we need to use every technique available to us to encourage mask use, from clear communication of the need for masks, to providing masks to those who need them, to leading by example, and even to mandating mask use nationwide.”