Looking for free N95 masks? Here’s where you can get them

Credit: Charles Krupa

Credit: Charles Krupa

Grocery stores and pharmacies in the region are giving away free N95 masks as part of a federal program.

The White House announced earlier in January that the administration is giving away 400 million N95 masks, up to three per person as long as they are available.

N95s are designed to block 95% of harmful particles. The CDC recently updated its guidance to clarify that these masks provide the highest level of protection, though also emphasizes that the most protective mask is that fits well and that you will wear consistently.

Your local Meijer, Kroger or Walgreens, are among stores that are part of the program and expect more locations to get supplies as the program is rolled out.

  • Meijer announced Jan. 24 that the grocery chain received an estimated 3 million masks, which will be in boxes by the greeter stand while supplies last.
  • Kroger said this week that the masks will be available at any local store with a pharmacy while supplies last. Look for a branded display with the masks or ask a worker for help.
  • Walgreens said masks have started arriving at some stores and they expect all participating stores will start getting supplies by mid-February. The pharmacy chain said it will frequently update its list of store locations with N95s as shipments arrive, check walgreens.com/N95StoreList.

Associated Press reported that the masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand.

The CDC warns not to wash your N95 or put it in the oven or microwave to try to sterilize it.

Replace the N95 when the straps are stretched out and it no longer fits snugly against your face or when it becomes wet, dirty, or damaged, the CDC advises.

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