Biden's administration is shipping free N95 masks across the US. Here's how to get them in Florida

·2 min read

Last week, President Joe Biden’s administration announced it would ship 400 million free non-surgical N95 face masks for distribution across the country.

Floridians have options on how to get their share.

When can I get a free N95 mask?

The program is beginning incrementally to provide masks to 100-200 health centers by the end of January in the initial phase, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration, with plans to expand to additional health centers in the following weeks. The administration expects to have the program fully operational by early February, according to USA TODAY.

The announcement: Biden administration to ship free 400 million N95 masks across the US starting this week

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How many masks can I get?

Individuals are limited to three masks per person, according to USA TODAY. This is to ensure broad access to the program.

Where can I get my free N95 masks?

Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Más and Harveys Supermarket will distribute masks as early as Jan. 28, according to a press release from owner Southeastern Grocers, while Reuters reported masks would be distributed at CVS, Target and Walgreens stores.

The White House plans to rely on the same federal programs used to distribute to COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies and community centers, according to USA TODAY, so most people can expect to head to the same locations they received COVID-19 vaccinations to get their free masks.

In Florida, the HRSA-supported health centers participating in the initial phase of distribution are:

  • Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida, Fort Myers

  • Jessie Trice Community Health System, Miami

  • MCR Health, Palmetto

  • Escambia Community Clinics, Pensacola

  • Trenton Medical Center, Trenton

  • Health Care District of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach

  • Central Florida Health Care, Winter Haven

The Centers for Disease Control's federal retail pharmacy program partners include:

  • Publix

  • Walmart (including Sam’s Club)

  • Rite Aid Jewel-Osco

  • Costco

  • Tom Thumb

What is the difference between an N95 and a cloth face mask?

N95s are dubbed the "gold standard" of face coverings, according to Reviewed. Masks approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health can filter up to 95% of air particles with the proper fit.

COVID mask guide for omicron surge: Why N95, KN95 masks are so much more effective than cloth

Experts advocate for increased mask protection as evidence mounts that common cloth masks don't do enough against the latest variants of COVID-19 including omicron.

N95 masks, per a USA Today project, are designed to achieve a close facial fit to filter airborne particles through a denser network of fibers than surgical or cloth masks. With a proper fit, N95 masks filter both particles in the air and exhalations to protect others.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Free N95 masks in Florida: When, where and how to get yours