Bay Area Residents Search for Free N95 Masks From Federal Government

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Some of the 400 million free N95 masks being distributed by the Biden administration for COVID-19 purposes were arriving Friday at pharmacies and grocery stores across the nation, but they appeared to be hard to find in the Bay Area.

Walgreens said many of the N95 shipments were still arriving at its warehouses and will remain on a rolling launch over the upcoming days and weeks.

CVS also said masks would be delivered on a rolling basis.

Walgreens and CVS said they plan to update the delivery information on their websites as the deliveries roll out.

Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Han said the wait could be worth it.

"We’re in the age of omicron and what that means is we are encouraging everyone to upgrade their masks, whether it’s an N95, a KN95, or a KF94, or even just a double mask," he said.

San Jose resident Anton Kerkoc was on a quest Saturday to find a N95 mask at a Walgreens in location.

“I’m going to ask if they have one. The store didn’t have them,” he said. “It is a disaster it’s too bad they should have it.”

But at a Los Gatos Rite Aid, the free N95 masks were available and customers could pick up as many as three from a table at the front of the store.

South Bay resident Kathy said after a friend tipped her off she rushed to the store. She was glad to get the added protection of an N95 without the added cost.

“For a lot of people, they’re expensive and they wouldn’t be able to get them and for us my husband and I…we are retired so it’s really nice to have them,” she said.

So, if you are still trying to get a free N95, be diligent because even the few pharmacies that are offering them right now may soon run out.

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