When Will Free N95 Masks Be Available at Major Pharmacies Across the US?

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The White House announced earlier this month that it would send millions of free N95 masks to pharmacies across the country. So how can you use the offer to your economic advantage, and what locations offer the best chance to pick yours up?

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“Our Administration is making 400 million N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile available for free to Americans. N95 masks will be available for the public to pick up at tens of thousands of local pharmacies and health centers,” the White House said in a tweet on Jan. 19.

This will mark “the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history,” a White House official told CBS.

According to CBS, CVS Pharmacy said it will have the free N95 masks at stores in the “coming weeks” as shipments from the government arrive. “Our work to distribute high-quality masks as part of this program is an extension of our commitment to providing equitable access to the tools necessary to combat COVID-19, including testing, vaccines and authorized therapies,” a spokesperson told CBS.

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Walgreens told CBS that it expects some of its stores to begin offering the N95s this Friday (Jan. 28), and that the masks will be offered as long as supplies last, while customers will be limited to three masks each, according to CBS.

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Kroger expects its stores with pharmacies to receive an allotment of the N95 masks later this week, CBS added.

In addition, on Jan. 24, the White House announced a new hotline to order free COVID-19 tests, as a supplement to the website rolled out earlier this month.

The hotline went live Jan. 21, and households can call 800-232-0233 to request up to four free tests. It will complement the federally run COVIDtests.gov website and is meant to provide better access to testing for communities that have had higher coronavirus infection rates than the rest of the country, NBC reported.

In December, the White House had announced it would purchase a half-billion at-home rapid tests this winter to be distributed for free to Americans who want them, with the initial delivery starting this month.

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“We’ve just seen the disproportionate impact on certain communities,” Dr. Cameron Webb, who advises President Joe Biden’s COVID response team on equity, told NBC. “The harder-hit communities have borne the brunt and most difficult aspects of this pandemic.”

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The phone line will offer services in English, Spanish and 150 other languages. Orders can be placed from 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, NBC reported.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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