Free N95 face masks are here at Cleveland area pharmacies, but they're hard to find
N95 face masks from the U.S. government stockpile have begun to be distributed at no charge across Northeast Ohio.
But for Northeast Ohio consumers there is no easy way to know which pharmacies or stores have received masks or whether they are still available.
The Biden administration, last week, announced plans to send 400 million masks for distribution to the public through pharmacies and community health centers.
Shipments have arrived at CVS, Meijer and Walgreens pharmacies, according to company spokespeople and from in-store visits.
On Friday, CVS said masks would be available on a “rolling basis” as additional supply becomes available.
“Masks are limited to three per person, while supplies last, and signs are posted to indicate N95 mask availability,” a pharmacy spokesperson wrote in an email.
A Walgreens spokesperson said that while some stores had received the masks, the distribution effort remains “a rolling launch over the coming days and weeks.”
According to the Walgreens program store locator, which tracks where shipments have been received, only one location in the Cleveland area — 11401 Union Ave. — has received masks.
A Friday visit to the Meijer store on on Nagel Road in Avon confirmed that the store had received masks, but a store employee said they ran out Thursday evening. Store personnel did not know when or if they would get more.
Meijer did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
DrugMart is expecting shipments in the coming days and weeks, a spokesperson said.
The masks are being made available through the federal retail pharmacy program – which includes major grocery stores and pharmacy chains, NPR reported last week.
The distribution comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to emphasize N95 masks as the highly transmissible omicron variant fueled a wave of COVID-19 infections.
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