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Health

Governor Whitmer announces 10 million free KN95 masks for Michiganders

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LANSING, MI--   Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is distributing 10 million free KN95 masks to ensure Michiganders can protect themselves from COVID-19 as the state continues to face the Omicron variant.

Free KN95 masks provided by MDHHS will be distributed by community organizations, including local MDHHS offices, health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices.

"We have the tools and we know what works as we face down the Omicron variant of COVID-19," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "By distributing 10 million highly-effective KN95 masks, we can keep families and communities safe. I encourage Michiganders to pick up a free KN95 mask at their local MDHHS office, public health department, or community organization. Together, we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe."

Residents who need masks can pick one up from partner sites across the state. Find a distribution site at Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan. Michiganders are asked to refer to partner websites or social media sites to find out about mask availability as opposed to calling sites.

"We are urging Michiganders to mask up to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities from COVID-19," said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. "Wearing masks are important in helping limit the spread of COVID-19, particularly the easily spread omicron and delta variants. Today's distribution of KN95 masks will help more Michiganders limit the spread of COVID to save lives and get back to normal sooner."

As of Jan. 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its consumer web page describing the types of masks and respirators used to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. According to CDC, loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, while layered finely woven products offer more protection.

Well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection. KN95 masks are similar to but should not be confused with N95 masks that are often used by health care workers as part of their work in higher-risk settings or as a replacement for NIOSH-approved respirators if required by your employer.

In addition to MDHHS offices, local health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices, the free masks are available from Community Action Agencies, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Some agencies will further distribute the masks to local partners such as homeless shelters. This is the second time the department has distributed KN95 masks for the public, having distributed 3.5 million masks in January 2021.

The masks being provided by MDHHS are in addition to 400 million N95 masks being made available by the Biden administration to pharmacies and health centers from the Strategic National Stockpile. CVS, Costco, Meijer, Walgreens, Kroger, Rite Aid, Walmart and Sam's Club are among the many Michigan retailers that joined the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to begin free distribution of N95 masks. 

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.