YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Free N-95 masks are now available in Ohio and other states.

The White House announced last week that 400 million masks are being made available to states from a government stockpile.

The masks are being distributed through pharmacies and community centers, but details about specific outlets have not been confirmed. Mask distributors are pharmacies that have vaccines through the federal vaccine program or federally qualified health centers. You should call ahead to your local pharmacy or organization to check if they received the masks.

The masks were supposed to ship last week and should be available beginning Monday and throughout the week.

A spokesperson from the Ohio Department of Health told WJW that they are awaiting more details about the mask distribution.

“At this time, the Ohio Department of Health is awaiting more details from our federal partners about how the N-95 masks will be distributed, and where Ohioans can go to receive the free masks. The White House shared in its announcement that the masks will be given out at certain pharmacies and community health centers, and that the program will be fully up and running by early February. We will share updates as soon as available.”

Walgreens issued a statement Monday saying they will be giving out the masks soon.

We are pleased to partner with the Administration to make N95 masks in varying sizes available free of charge at participating Walgreens locations while supplies last. Customers and patients can pick up a maximum of three masks per person. We expect the first stores to begin offering masks on Friday, January 28 and will continue on a rolling basis in the days and weeks following. Participating stores will have signage indicating mask availability.

Walgreens

Experts have been stepping up calls for people to use higher quality masks like N95s, which offer much better protection than simple cloth masks, especially in the face of the highly-transmissible omicron variant.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that N95 masks offer the highest level of protection. Experts have also recommended KN95 masks, another type of high quality mask, though consumers are warned to make sure the masks they are buying are not counterfeit.