Unlike the free testing kits which are ordered through a government website or hotline and shipped by the United States Postal Service, the free N95 masks will be available to pick up at “tens of thousands” of pharmacies and community health centers that have partnered with the federal government's COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
While the White House said the masks would be available for distribution starting this week, specific dates for all stores and locations were not immediately available.
How many free masks can I get?
Individuals will be limited to three masks per person to ensure broad access to the program, according to Kevin Munoz, assistant White House press secretary.
What pharmacies in Rochester NY will offer free N95 masks with government program?
Retail pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program vary by state and territory, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, which also lists a state-by-state breakdown.
Here's the Rochester pharmacies that will offer the masks.
Costco Wholesale Corp.
CVS Pharmacy Inc. (including Target stores)
Rite Aid Corp.
Tops Friendly Markets
What health centers will distribute free N95 masks?
Through the Health Resources & Services Administration Health Center COVID-19 N95 Mask Program, eligible health centers can opt to participate to distribute free masks to patients and people in their communities. The program is voluntary.
Approximately 100 to 200 health centers (listed on the hyperlink) are included in the initial phase and “should receive and start distributing masks before the end of January 2022.” The program is expected to be expanded in the coming weeks.
Wegmans free N95 masks in Rochester NY
Wegmans is awaiting details on when they will receive masks for distribution, according to the company.
CVS free N95 masks coming as early as Thursday, including to pharmacies in Target stores
CVS on Wednesday said that free N95 masks are expected to begin to arrive at CVS Pharmacy stores and its pharmacies inside Target stores "as early as Thursday and will continue on a rolling basis as additional supply becomes available."
In a statement, CVS said that "signs will be posted to indicate N95 mask availability."
Walgreens free N95 mask program to start at first stores Friday
Walgreens said it will have N95 masks in varying sizes available at participating locations, while supplies last. There will be a maximum of three masks per person.
“We expect the first stores to begin offering masks on Friday, January 28 and will continue on a rolling basis in the days and weeks following,” Walgreens said in a statement. “Participating stores will have signage indicating mask availability.”
Walmart free N95 masks coming to stores, Sam's Club by 'second week of February'
Walmart said in a statement that the company anticipates "masks will be available by the second week of February at the front of more than 5,100 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs across the country."
The masks will be available, while supplies last, and will be limited to three masks per person.
Are N95 masks better?
The CDC updated its mask information Jan. 14 to acknowledge some types of masks provide more protection than others.
The agency also recognized that some types of masks may be harder to wear consistently than others and that it is important to choose a mask that is comfortable and provides good protection. It also removed concerns related to supply shortages.
"Masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask," the CDC said in a statement. "To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC continues to recommend that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently."
The updated guidelines come as many experts advocate for increasing mask protection amid growing evidence that common cloth masks are not protective enough against the latest variants of the virus.
Contributing: Democrat and Chronicle staff
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Free N95 masks available at Rochester NY pharmacies