The Biden administration is expected to make 400 million N95 masks available for free to U.S. residents starting next week, and several pharmacies and community health centers announced they will participate in the program.
Chicago-area pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS and Walmart said they will partner with the federal government to distribute free N95 masks, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends for the highest protection against COVID-19.
Here's a list of where you can find a free N95 mask, according to the CDC:
- Albertsons Companies (including Osco, Jewel-Osco, Albertsons, Albertsons Market, Safeway, Tom Thumb, Star Market, Shaw’s, Haggen, Acme, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United, Vons, Pavilions, Amigos, Lucky’s, Pak n Save, Sav-On)
- CPESN USA
- Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation’s pharmacy services administrative organization (PSAO), Elevate Provider Network
- Health Mart Pharmacies
- LeaderNET and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, Cardinal Health’s PSAOs
- The Kroger Co. (including Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Ralphs, King Soopers, Smiths, City Market, Dillons, Mariano’s, Pick-n-Save, Copps, Metro Market, QFC)
- Walmart (including Sam’s Club)
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Several locations will begin providing the masks next week, according to White House officials, although the program is expected to be fully up and running by early February. Officials recommend calling locations to ensure there are enough masks in stock.
Each resident will be limited to three masks per person to ensure broad access to the program, a White House official said.
According to a White House statement, 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 news comes after the CDC recommended that residents wear properly-fitted N95 and KN95 masks, as those coverings were shown to be more effective at protecting individuals from the omicron variant of the virus.
Cloth masks can still be worn, according to officials.