With an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots expected in the 2020 election, the operations of the United States Postal Service (USPS) have never been under more scrutiny.
President Donald Trump's administration has pushed back against state leaders' efforts to expand mail-in voting eligibility, attempting to sow distrust of the 100+ year old institution of voting by mail. The appointment of Trump megadonor Louis DeJoy to Postmaster General only sparked more concern of the White House's effort.
Now, the USPS is at the center of another startling development from the administration.
According to the Washington Post, the USPS had a plan in April to distribute 650 million reusable face masks to the public, in hopes of curbing the virus that's since killed nearly 200 thousand Americans.
The plan—dubbed Project: American Strong, could have sent each American household five reusable face masks and sent a message regarding the importance of communal efforts to slow the spread of the virus. Plans and a press release were drawn that would've sent these masks to some of the areas most devastated by the virus.
But the White House scrapped the plan, because according to one administration official:
"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."
The planned press release soon circulated on Twitter.
The release states in part:
"The U.S. Postal Service today announced it will distribute 650 million reusable cotton face coverings on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to every residential delivery point in America, beginning in areas which HHS has identified as experiencing high transmission rates of [the virus] and to workers providing essential services throughout the nation during this pandemic."
People were livid that the Trump administration blocked what could've been a significant step toward slowing the spread.
Earlier this month, news surfaced that Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in a recorded February interview that the virus was deadlier than even the most strenuous flus, directly contradicting what Trump would tell the American public repeatedly over the next few months.
Like the given reason for blocking mask distribution, Trump said the reason he downplayed the virus to Americans was to prevent panic.
This excuse hadn't escaped people's memories.