Three masks, really – and the top-drawer N95 variety taken from the nation’s stockpile of protective gear:

People looking to pick up the free masks will be limited to three per person, a White House official said.

“To ensure broad access for all Americans, there will be three masks available per person. In addition to this program, thanks to the administration’s efforts, these high-quality masks are in ample supply and widely available to American consumers,” the official said.

The 400 million non-surgical N95 masks amount to more than half of the 750 million stored in the US’ Strategic National Stockpile, a figure that tripled over the last year as the White House sought to boost reserves. The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recently advised that well-fitting respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health — such as N95 masks — offer “the highest level of protection” against Covid-19.

Setting aside the notion that a goodly portion of the public won’t wear these masks…nevermind the masks that are lost, mutilated, or otherwise disappear…they would give you just three? The CDC notes that N-95 masks are “labeled as ‘single-use,’ disposable devices.”

In other words, this looks and sounds a lot like health care theater – not intended to make a genuine difference, but definitely aimed at making it look like the political class is making a difference.

Never mind the cost. Or the logistics. Or whether it’s far too little, far too late.