Pharmacies across the U.S. will begin handing out free N95 masks to consumers as part of the 400 million masks that will be supplied through the Strategic National Stockpile.
Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, called the mask distribution to Americans the “largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history” during a COVID-19 press briefing on Friday.
He continued by saying, “We’ve already shipped millions of these masks out. And across the coming days, masks will begin to be available at local pharmacies and community health centers across the country.”
Thousands of pharmacy retailers and community health centers have partnered with the federal government to hand out the N95 masks for free, with retailers such as Meijer and Hy-Vee already beginning distribution of the masks to customers, USA Today reported.
Walgreens told the news outlet that N95 masks would be available at participating locations as early as Friday, and Walmart expects to start handing out free N95 masks by the second week of February at its stores and Sam’s Club locations.
Consumers will be limited to three masks per person to ensure that access is provided to as many people as possible through the program, according to Assistant White House Press Secretary Kevin Munoz, as reported by USA Today.
Retailers that are included in the N95 mask distribution program include Albertsons, Costco, CVS, Hy-Vee, H-E-B, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart, among others. A full list of pharmacy retailers offering N95 masks by state can be viewed here.
The government has also initiated a free COVID test program, where households are eligible for four at-home rapid tests by mail shipped by the USPS. The tests can be ordered at www.covidtests.gov.
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