Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is seen wearing a mask in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/POOL)

'Masks for All': Bernie Sanders Calls on Federal Government to Provide Face Coverings for Everyone in the Country

"The science is clear: Wearing a mask not only saves lives, but the widespread use of masks will get Americans back to work sooner and reunite families who have stayed apart."

Eoin Higgins

Sen. Bernie Sanders and public health expert Andy Slavitt on Friday published a joint opinion piece for CNN arguing for a national effort at the federal level to produce and distribute face masks to everyone in the country to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

"We are urgently calling for a simple, common-sense, practical, and inexpensive way to protect Americans during the coronavirus pandemic: Masks for All," the two write. "Our goal must be to make high-quality masks available on an equitable basis to every single person in this country at no cost."

Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats and ran for the party's nomination for president earlier this year, intends to introduce legislation on Masks for All next week. The bill would call for producing and delivering three high-quality masks to everyone in the U.S. using the Defense Production Act and the U.S. Postal Service. 

"Masks for All will not only increase the availability of masks, but also the quality," write Sanders and Slavitt. "The ultimate goal, which we hope can be achieved within months, is to get every American a mask that is high quality, comfortable, easy-to-fit and washable for continued use without losing the capacity to keep the virus at bay. And these masks should protect both the wearer as well as the people they come into contact with."

The former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration, Slavitt has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump's response to the pandemic. On Wednesday, Slavitt noted on Twitter that while universal mask-wearing could become an effective counter to the disease, "the public will still need to be convinced it's the right thing to do."

Sanders and Slavitt emphasize the need to normalize mask-wearing in their opinion piece. 

"President Donald Trump has recklessly made masks a political football," they write. "But public surveys suggest that Americans, by a good-sized majority, are very open to wearing masks. This bill would help make clear the public health necessity for masks once and for all."

The duo conclude their argument with a call for solidarity in the face of an unprecedented crisis.

"We are all in this together," they write. "During World War II, factories across the country were given the opportunity to play a role in winning the war. Today, U.S. manufacturers and workers could play an equivalent, vital role in winning the war against the pandemic, and ensuring a healthy society for all."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Democrats Urge Biden to Abandon Dangerous Trump Policies on Nuclear Weapons

With the Nuclear Posture Review, say congressional lawmakers, the president can ensure "future generations can finally be free from the nuclear sword of Damocles that hangs over all our heads."

Andrea Germanos ·


'There Is No Military Solution': Jayapal, Lee Demand Diplomacy on Ukraine

"We call upon our colleagues to allow the administration to find a diplomatic way out of this crisis," said the progressive Democrats.

Jake Johnson ·


Gun-Maker Slammed for 'Children's Assault Rifles' Based on AR-15

"At first glance, this comes across as a grotesque joke," said one gun control advocate. "On second look, it's just grotesque."

Jessica Corbett ·


Biden Urged to Nominate Black Woman to Supreme Court as Breyer Says He'll Retire

"President Biden has an opportunity to secure a seat on the bench for a justice committed to protecting our democracy and the constitutional rights of all Americans, including the freedom to vote."

Brett Wilkins ·


Dems Demand Biden Stop Maintaining Saudi Jets Causing 'Untold Suffering' in Yemen

"Continued servicing of these jets could make the United States complicit in these likely war crimes," tweeted Rep. Tom Malinowski.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo