SEATTLE, Wash. — Free N95 face masks are now available to pick up at some western Washington pharmacies and health centers.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced it would send 400 million non-surgical N95 masks to locations across the country for Americans to pick up free of charge to protect against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The US Department of Health and Human Services said there will be a limit of three free N95 masks per person under the program, which is expected to be up and running in full by early February. However, masks are already available at some locations.
“I have them,” said Seattle resident Mikey Hoyle. “They’re giving them away for free at Bartell’s right now.”
Bartell Drugs in downtown Seattle put a sign on the door saying people can pick up three N95 masks. A Bartell Drugs on Lake City Way NE also had masks available Sunday morning, but some stores said they were still awaiting deliveries.
The Washington State Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday that a list of participating pharmacies is not yet available. However, the White House said the masks are available at pharmacies and community health centers that have partnered with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some partner pharmacies in Washington include:
• Albertsons Companies, Inc (including Safeway)
•Costco Wholesale Corp.
•CVS Pharmacy, Inc
•Kroger Co. (including Fred Meyer and QFC)
• Rite Aid Corp.
• Walmart, Inc.
A complete list of Washington partners can be found on the CDC website. Details of health centers participating in the program can be found on the Health Resources & Services Administration website.
The masks come from a federal stock. The shipment marks the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.
Earlier this month, the CDC updated its face covering guidance to clarify that properly fitting N95 and KN95 masks provide the best protection against COVID-19. Still, it didn’t officially recommend N95s over cloth masks.
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