Where to get free N95 masks from the government

By Jacqueline Howard and Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) – Just as free COVID-19 tests are landing in the mailboxes of those who ordered them, the first free N95 masks for the public began arriving in US pharmacies in the coming days with more on the way Huh.

The Biden administration seeks to increase access to high-quality masks amid the spread of the highly permeable Omicron variant. Meanwhile, the free trials began shipping last week, and are part of the administration’s effort to increase access to the test around the United States.

The masks have already been set up for distribution at some Hi-Vee and Meijer grocery stores in the Midwest, with more expected at Southeast grocer’s stores later this week.

“Last week masks started shipping and arriving at pharmacies and grocers (around the country). We expect the number of stores and N95s to increase significantly throughout the week,” an administration official told CNN on Monday.

The Biden administration announced last week that 400 million N95 masks, which are coming from the Strategic National Stockpile, will be distributed to pharmacies and community health centers, with the program expected to be fully up and running by early February. Masks are arriving at their destination, accompanied by passengers and signage with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) paying for the masks.

“Mask up and maximize your protection,” travelers say, encouraging Americans to “help slow the spread of COVID by protecting yourself and those around you.”

The flyer, which is being distributed in both English and Spanish, notes that the three free masks are “available to everyone in America”. cdc.gov/coronavirus And it includes a QR code with instructions on how to properly put on and take off the mask.

Masks are being issued as soon as some in the United States are receiving US Postal Service packages free covid-19 antigen test they ordered.

Gorjoyn Wade of San Antonio, Texas told CNN he ordered the test covidtests.gov went live last week. He wanted to have them in hand and be ready when needed.

“It’s another tool in the toolbox to keep me, my family and our community safe,” Wade said.

where are the masks coming from

Some of the first masks arrived in the Midwest on Friday, including high-vee grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Meijer stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky. and Wisconsin.

The masks will also begin arriving at Southeast grocer locations early this Friday, and will be available at Fresco y Mas, Harvey’s supermarkets and Winn-Dixie in-store pharmacies, the official said.

Mills Civic Hi-Vee in West Des Moines, Iowa, received the masks on Friday, along with about 150 other Hi-Vee locations. Photos provided by the store show employees handing out individually wrapped packages of masks, with passengers stationed nearby to take customers home.

“I can confirm that we have begun receiving and distributing our first shipment of N95 masks from HHS on Friday, January 21. At this time, several Hi-V pharmacy locations have received their mask allocations and All 275 Hi-V pharmacies in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin will have masks by the middle of the week,” Hy-Vee, Inc. spokeswoman Christina Gaiman said in an email. Wrote CNN on Monday

“We have received many positive comments from customers who are happy that we have masks and are distributing them so quickly. We still have masks available at all the places they’ve been received so far,” Geiman said.

At Meijer locations, masks will be placed on tables near store entrances and distributed by greeters. Meijer confirmed to CNN on Monday that it has received “an estimated 3 million masks” that will be made available at no charge to any customers who need them.

CVS pharmacies also expect to receive and distribute free N95 masks in the coming weeks as supplies come in from the federal government, spokesman Matt Blanchett told CNN in an email on Monday.

According to a company spokesperson, Walgreens expects free N95 masks to be available in some locations starting this Friday.

“We are pleased to partner with the administration to make N95 masks available in a variety of sizes for free at participating Walgreens locations,” a Walgreens spokesperson wrote in an email to CNN on Monday.

“Customers and patients can carry a maximum of three masks per person,” the email said. “We expect the first stores to begin offering masks on Friday, January 28, and will continue on a rolling basis over the coming days and weeks. Participating stores will have signage indicating the availability of masks.”

The first 100 community health centers to participate in the rollout of the federal government’s free N95 mask program will also begin this week, National Association of Community Health Centers spokeswoman Amy Simmons Farber wrote in an email to CNN on Monday. Health Resources and Services Administration OR HRSA oversees the Community Health Center program for the federal government, and notes on its website that the HRSA Health Center COVID-19 N95 Mask Program will begin incrementally, with about 100 to 200 health centers in the initial phase providing N95 masks. will provide.

According to the HRSA, “these health centers should start receiving and distributing masks before the end of January 2022.” Farber said that by mid-February, HRSA expects masks to be made available to all health centers.

“For now, the program is limited to around 300 community health centers to ensure that work is done for receiving, storing and distributing masks. Our understanding is that the program will be widened to include more health centers as part of the Biden administration’s effort to ensure that underserved communities have equal access to public health equipment,” Farber wrote in the email.

“Our understanding is that these select health centers should be getting masks by the end of January,” Farber wrote. “Each individual health center will need time to develop a delivery plan and notification process for patients. If you are inpatient, check your local health center’s Web site for announcements. Keep in mind that most health care systems are at capacity. And workers are suffering from pandemic exhaustion – and health centers are no exception. Try to avoid bulky call centers for now.”

Masks are the ‘largest deployment’ ever

The rollout of free masks has been called the “largest deployment” of the federal government to date.

“This effort represents the largest deployment ever by the Strategic National Stockpile and is also the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history,” said Don O’Connell, assistant secretary of preparedness and response at HHS. wrote in a blog post Friday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not plan to change Guidance on the use of masks As the administration has given access to these masks.

The CDC advises Americans to wear masks that fit well, which may include multiple layers of cloth masks, N95s, or K95s.

In a statement earlier this month, the CDC said, “Masking is an important public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask. “

“Some masks and respirators provide a higher level of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or wear more consistently than others,” CDC guidelines say, “It is most important to wear a well-fitted mask or respirator that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection.”

The better fit and certain materials – such as polypropylene fibers – by acting as both mechanical and electrostatic barriers, help N95 masks better prevent small particles from getting into the nose or mouth and on the face to function properly. Must fit.

“CDC is consistently recommending that any mask is better than no mask. And we encourage all Americans to wear a well-suited mask to protect themselves and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky told reporters at a briefing earlier this month. “And that recommendation is not going to change.”

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