Free N95 masks are coming to drugstores and grocery stores.  Here's how to get it: Houston Public Media

Free N95 masks are coming to drugstores and grocery stores. Here’s how to get it: Houston Public Media

Linsey Jones, a medical assistant who works at a drive-up coronavirus testing clinic, wears an N95 mask on January 4 in Puyallup, Washington. The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting this week.

Almost a week after the Biden administration announced it will distribute 400 million free N95 masks to the public, high-quality face covers are starting to arrive in drugstores and grocery stores.

“Each person is allowed up to 3 free masks pending availability,” says the Department of Health and Human Services.

The White House has launched its latest effort to combat COVID-19 following new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC now says that cloth masks are no longer as effective in preventing the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus and that people should wear an N95 or KN95 mask.

The coveted N95 non-surgical masks come from the Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million on hand. The program is expected to be operational and fully operational by the beginning of February.

Where can I find mine?

On Monday, Meijer, which operates more than 250 groceries and pharmacies across the Midwest, said the stores had received about 3 million face masks.

“The N95 masks will be in boxes placed on a table near the Meijer Greeter booth at the entrance to the grocery store,” the company said. “The Greeter, who will be wearing the gloves, will place the N95 masks in stacks of three for customers to pick up.”

Kroger pharmacy stores will also distribute face masks to the chain’s Midwest and Southwest locations. Spokeswoman Kristal Howard said the first mask assignment is expected to arrive on Thursday.

Walgreens is also participating in the distribution program, and spokesman Scott Goldberg told NPR on Tuesday that the masks will be made available for free while supplies last.

“We expect the first stores to start offering masks on Friday, January 28 and will continue rolling over the following days and weeks,” Goldberg said, explaining that customers are limited to three masks per person. “Participating stores will have a sign indicating the availability of the mask.”

Similarly, CVS pharmacy locations will also offer free N95 masks in the coming weeks, spokesman Matt Blanchette told NPR.

A full list of participating resellers is available here.

Most affected communities will have to wait a little longer

While there are no restrictions on who can drop by to grab N95 masks from participating retailers, the stash that has been set aside for many of the nation’s poorest and most affected communities won’t be sent for at least another month.

The White House said Monday that more than 25 million N95 masks will be delivered starting in March and through May to more than 1,300 community health centers across the country, along with 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens.

“Two-thirds of the people served by community health centers live in poverty, 60% are racial and / or ethnic minorities, and nearly 1.4 million are homeless,” the White House said, adding that people will be entitled to take two. face masks per person from the local community health center.

He said many of the nation’s roughly 300 food banks will also receive N95.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To find out more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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