St. Louis Fire Captain Ron Jones places an N95 mask on his face during a training session in St. Louis on January 12. Some pharmacies and grocery stores started to distribute the free masks distributed by the federal government on Friday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Chain Walgreens pharmacies, supermarket Kroger and regional grocery store Meijer are some of the first locations to receive free N95 masks from the national Strategic National Stockpile that will be given away for free.
President Joe Biden promised last week to make 400 million nonsurgical masks available following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The masks are considered the best face coverings against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Other stores expected to have the masks include CVS, Hy-Vee, Winn-Dixie, Harveys Supermarket and Southeastern Grocers.
"Wearing a mask is a critical way to prevent the spread of COVID-19," the Department of Health and Human Services said on its website. Masks and respirators, when worn consistently and correctly, are effective at reducing the transmission of ... COVID-19.
"Free N95 masks are available to pick up at local pharmacies and community health center sites across the country. Every person is allowed up to 3 free masks pending availability."
Meijer, which operates supermarkets throughout the Midwest, said in a statement this week it has received roughly three million masks from the stockpile that it will give away for free.
"The N95 masks will be in boxes set on a table near the Meijer greeter stand of the grocery entrance," Meijer said in its statement. "The greeter, who will be wearing gloves, will place the N95 masks in piles of three for the customers to take."
Kroger said its stores with pharmacies will give out masks at its Midwest and Southeastern location. Those masks arrived Thursday.
Walgreens told NPR that it will have masks and will be give them out while they last.