U.S. DOT announces plan to distribute 15.5 million facial coverings

May 28, 2020

Mark Schremmer


More than 15 million cloth facemasks will be distributed to transportation workers, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Thursday, May 28. More than 2 million of the facial coverings are designated for highway and motor carrier workers.

“Transportation workers are on the frontlines of keeping our transportation systems operational during this public health emergency, and their wellbeing and safety is paramount,” U.S. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao said in a news release.

The U.S. DOT, along with the Department of Homeland Security, said it has been working with states, industries and stakeholders to ensure that transportation workers receive the support they need.

The 15.5 million cloth facial coverings have been secured by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and are scheduled to be distributed in the coming weeks.

According to an FMCSA spokesman, the masks are expected to be distributed to all 50 states and information on locations and timeframes will be released soon.

Distribution of cloth facial coverings

  • Mass transit and passenger rail, 4.8 million.
  • Aviation, 3.8 million.
  • Maritime, 2.4 million.
  • Freight rail, 2.2 million.
  • Highway and motor carrier, 2.1 million.
  • Pipeline systems, 258,000.

OOIDA’s advocacy

OOIDA has been working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to help get facemasks and other personal protective equipment to truck drivers in need.

On April 3, OOIDA sent a letter to President Trump asking for “urgent and immediate action” to protect truck drivers as they haul essential freight during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every day they are exposed to COVID-19, because of the critical service they provide for all of us,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer wrote. “They run in and out of the hot zones and, without question, they are exposed. They don’t have access to personal protective equipment or any practical means to know when they may be falling ill or any practical solution if they need treatment or self-isolation.”

In response, it was announced on April 22 that FMCSA, FEMA, and DHS was establishing a distribution network to get masks to truck drivers.