Free N95 masks are offered at pharmacies and community health centers | Coronavirus

(CNN) — The deployment of free N95 masks for the public began this week across the United States, with some pharmacies already distributing the masks and others expecting to do so in the coming days.

The program is part of the Biden administration’s effort to distribute 400 million free N95 masks from the national strategic stockpile through pharmacies and community health centers. The program should be fully operational in early February. The masks arrive at their destination with leaflets and accompanying panels from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which paid for the masks.

Here’s what you need to know to get a free N95 mask through this program:

The masks will be available at a number of local pharmacies and community health centers, a A White House official told CNN.

Participating pharmacies include Hy-Vee, Meijer, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger.

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

The masks should also start arriving at Southeastern Grocers stores as soon as Friday, and they will be available at Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie in-store pharmacies.

CVS pharmacies should also receive and begin distributing free N95 masks in the coming weeks as supplies from the federal government arrive, spokesman Matt Blanchette told CNN on Monday.

Walgreens expects free N95 masks to be available at select locations starting Friday, according to a company spokesperson.

“We are excited to partner with the administration to make N95 masks in various sizes available free of charge at participating Walgreens stores while supplies last,” a Walgreens spokesperson wrote in an email Monday. CNN.

“Customers and patients can pick up a maximum of three masks per person,” the email said. “We anticipate that the first stores will begin offering masks on Friday, January 28 and will continue on a rolling basis in the days and weeks thereafter. Participating stores will have signage indicating mask availability.”

Kroger stores with pharmacies also plan to distribute free N95 masks, according to a company statement Monday.

“Mask wearing and vaccinations continue to be the primary tools of defense in our country’s fight against COVID-19. I encourage everyone to take advantage of free non-surgical N95 masks and to schedule an appointment you today to get vaccinated or strengthened,” Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger’s chief medical officer, said in the statement.

Community health centers should also distribute masks, but on a smaller scale.

The first 100 centers participating in the rollout of the federal government’s free N95 mask program will begin this week, Amy Simmons Farber, a spokesperson for the National Association of Community Health Centers, wrote in an email to CNN on Monday.

The Health Resources and Services Administration oversees the Community Health Centers program for the federal government and notes on its website that the HRSA Health Center’s COVID-19 N95 mask program will begin gradually, providing N95 masks to about 100 to 200 health centers in the initial phase. .

“These health centers should receive and start distributing masks before the end of January 2022,” according to the agency.

Farber added that the Health Resources and Services Administration expects masks to be made available to all health centers by mid-February.

How many masks can I get?

The HHS flyer distributed with the free masks says up to three masks are “available to anyone in the United States”

Pharmacies plan to monitor how many masks people take at a time to make sure they don’t take more.

There have been no issues with people trying to take more than the allotted number of N95 masks from Hy-Vee locations, a company spokesperson told CNN on Monday.

“Each Hy-Vee store has designated employees to personally distribute up to three masks per person; we haven’t had a problem with people trying to take more than the limit of three provided by HHS,” Christina Gayman, spokesperson for Hy-Vee, wrote in an email. “Additional N95 masks are also on sale in our pharmacies if people want/need more.”

If the masks are free with me, who paid for them?

The masks come from the United States National Strategic Reserve, maintained by HHS, which means the federal government paid for them.

“This effort represents the largest deployment of the Strategic National Stockpile to date and it is also the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history,” Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and response to HHS, written in a blog post Friday.

The 400 million N95 masks represent more than half of the 750 million stored in the strategic national stockpile, a figure that has tripled over the past year as the White House sought to increase its reserves.

Copyright 2022 WDRB Media and CNN Media. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.