Free N95 masks will soon be available at multiple pharmacies and grocery stores in Washington, with some locations already offering masks as early as Thursday.
The free masks are part of a federal effort to give away 400 million N95 masks through pharmacies and community health centers that have partnered with the federal government’s vaccination campaign.
In Washington, partners include Albertsons, Bartell Drugs, Costco, CVS, Fred Meyer, Rite Aid, Safeway, Walgreens and Walmart, among others. A full list of partners can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site, st.news/masking.
Local pharmacies should start receiving the masks “in the coming days,” the state Department of Health said Thursday.
Monica Prinzing, spokesperson for CVS ‘Western region, said some locations started giving away masks Thursday. Masks will arrive at more CVS pharmacies, including locations inside Target, and will continue to arrive on a rolling basis, she said.
Masks will be limited to three per person, while supplies last, and signs will be posted to indicate mask availability, according to Prinzing.
Bartell Drugs will also limit customers to three masks each. Though a spokesperson was not able to provide a specific timeline Thursday for when masks will be available to pick up, the regional drugstore chain anticipates some locations will receive masks this week, and all stores by early February.
The CDC clarified its recommendation on face coverings in January and said that properly fitted N95 and KN95 masks offer the most protection.
Washington state plans to distribute around 10 million masks, including KN95 and surgical masks, mostly from existing supplies. State officials had said earlier this month that those masks would be sent to local emergency management officials and K-12 schools “in the coming weeks.”
Seattle Times Staff reporter Elise Takahama contributed to this report.