N95 masks

Last week, the Biden administration announced that to help continue to slow the spread of COVID-19, 400 million NIOSH-approved N95 masks would be shipped out from a government stockpile to pharmacies across the country. According to the Wall Street Journal, masks are now available at almost all locations that have also been part of the government’s vaccine distribution program.

Availability of the free masks also includes community health centers, which have been an effective way of delivering healthcare to underserved communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The CDC now reports that high-quality N95 or KN95 masks are more effective than cloth masks at protecting against the various COVID-19 variants. For a complete list of participating health centers, visit the HRSA website.

CVS, as well as several national pharmacies, expect to be stocked the first week of February and will continue “on a rolling basis as additional supply becomes available,” a CVS spokesperson said. Rite Aid and Walgreens already have masks available at select locations. Participating pharmacies have signs designating them as a mask distribution location, and all have information on their participating locations on their websites. No insurance or identification is needed for the free masks, but there is a limit of 3 masks per person, which means every household member can get up to 3 masks each.

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