A week after the White House announced a plan to provide 400 million free N95 masks to the United States, the goods have arrived.
The non-surgical masks, which come from the US National Strategic Stockpile and are expected to be distributed through local pharmacies across the country, have reportedly already started arriving in stores. “Last week, masks started shipping and arriving at area pharmacies and grocers. [the] country,” a White House official said. CNN.
The first masks have arrived in the Midwest. So far, free N95 masks have reportedly arrived at Meijer stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin, and at Hy-Vee stores in Iowa. , Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansans, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Nebraska. . Southern states are also expected to receive masks this week. More shipments are expected to arrive at Southeastern Grocers later this week, including drugstores Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie, according to CNN.
“We expect that throughout the week the number of stores and N95 arriving will increase significantly,” the administration official told CNN. That will include providing free masks to CVS and Walgreens stores across the country, with the latter chain planning to start receiving masks this week, per CNN. Community health centers are also part of the rollout plan. “At this time, the program is limited to approximately 300 community health centers to ensure logistics for receiving, storing and distributing masks,” said Amy Simmons Farber, spokeswoman for the National Association of Health Centers. community health, at CNN. « Our understanding is that the program will expand to include more health centers as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to ensure underserved communities have equitable access to public health tools. »
Shipments of masks arrive not too early. Omicron cases may be down in many parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean the surge is over – hundreds of thousands of new COVID cases are still being reported daily. Earlier this month, health experts began recommending N95s as the best mask for blocking coronavirus particles over inferior cloth masks, as SELF reported. Against the highly contagious omicron variant, « cloth masks are little more than facial decorations », CNN medical analyst Leana Wen, MD, told the outlet. A cloth mask (or, better yet, a surgical mask) is better than nothing, but last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially updated its guidelines to confirm that non-surgical N95 masks provide the ‘highest level of protection. ”
N95s have been hard to come by in recent months, with reports of fake masks and exorbitant prices complicating rising demand. The free N95 masks are an attempt to put more highly protective masks into the hands of people across the country. As soon as the masks arrive near you, you can receive three free N95 masks (although, as SELF previously reported, the distribution plan does not currently include masks for children).