CALIFORNIA — Throughout the omicron surge, many Californians have tried to stock up on N95 masks, which were deemed the most effective at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Pharmacies including Walgreens, Costco, Wegmans and CVS will offer begin offering the highly coveted masks Friday for free at participating stores across the country.
"We are pleased to partner with the [Biden] Administration to make N95 masks in varying sizes available free of charge at participating Walgreens locations while supplies last," a spokesperson for the Illinois-based company told Patch.
Customers and patients can pick up a maximum of three masks per person.
Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies will begin offering the masks by Friday for free at participating stores in California.
Among the pharmacy companies participating in the mask distribution are:
Rite Aid Corp.
Walgreens (including Duane Reade)
Walmart (including Sam’s Club)
Find a full list of free mask giveaways on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
"We are pleased to partner with the [Biden] Administration to make N95 masks in varying sizes available free of charge at participating Walgreens locations while supplies last," a spokesperson for Walgreens told Patch.
Walgreens said the mask distribution will continue on a rolling basis in the days and weeks ahead. Participating stores will have signage indicating mask availability.
Last week, the White House announced that 400 million N95 masks would be made available for free to all Americans. The masks are being released from the Strategic National Stockpile. In addition to pharmacies such as Walgreens, they can be picked up at local community health centers.
The nationwide N95 mask distribution is part of a wider COVID-19 response plan that included last week's rollout of a website where Americans can sign up to receive free coronavirus rapid tests, the Associated Press reported.
The CDC updated its face covering guidance Jan. 14, clearly stating that properly fitted N95 and KN95 masks offer the most protection against COVID-19, but it stopped short of recommending them over cloth masks.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said last week the best mask "is the one that you will wear and the one you keep on all day long, that you can tolerate in public indoor settings."