Where to find your free N95 respirator

County health departments, the state of Michigan, and the federal government have partnered to provide N95 and KN95 respirators to the community as the Omicron variant continues to surge.

KN95 masks are more protective than cloth masks at preventing transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Allegan County

The Allegan County Health Department will have free adult KN95 masks available for community members to pick up at the Allegan County Human Service Building, 3255 122nd Ave., Allegan. Curbside mask pick-up times will be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m. and Thursday, Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Signs will be posted in the Human Service Building parking lot for pick up. ACHD asks community members to stay in their car for pick-up. KN95 masks will be given on a first come, first serve basis, while supplies last.
 
“Our goal is to get these out to those in the community to replace less effective masks such as cloth. It takes a village and it would be helpful if community organizations might be willing to redistribute to those they serve,” a statement from the county health department says. 
 
As COVID-19 continues to surge with the presence of the highly contagious Omicron variant, getting vaccinated and boosted, as well as wearing a well-fitting mask over the mouth and nose in indoor public settings or crowds is crucial to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, the statement continues. ACHD recommends upgrading masks to a high filtration respirator, such as KN95’s.
 
If community organizations would like to participate, they can complete a request form, and they can pick up the next business day.

Ottawa County

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is offering free adult KN95 masks to community members at several pick-up locations throughout Ottawa County, while supplies last.

KN95 masks provide better protection against the virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants, compared to cloth masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing KN95 masks, especially for people who are at an increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19.

"Any mask is better than no mask at all, but surgical and KN95 masks reduce the spread of airborne droplets of the virus and provide better protection against infection," says Jennifer Sorek, public health preparedness coordinator for Ottawa County. "We're happy to be able to share these resources from the State of Michigan to better protect our community while we wait for the Omicron surge to continue to recede."

KN95 masks are available at Ottawa County township, village, and city offices, as well as local libraries, and the OCDPH lobby located at 12251 James St. in Holland.

As COVID-19 continues to spread and mutate, OCDPH encourages vaccination and boosters, staying home for those who are sick and a well-fitting mask when you are indoors in public places or at large gatherings. 

N95 pr KN95 respirators may be reused if they were not in a high exposure situation. To “clean” the respirator, contain the used respirator in a brown paper bag for at least five days in between uses, which should be enough time for the virus to become inactive.

For details, contact covid19@miottawa.org, (616) 396-5266 or visit miottawa.org/COVID19. 

Mask Up, Mask Right

Free KN95/N95 masks have been made available throughout Michigan as part of the state’s Mask Up, Mask Right campaign. Find additional distribution sites at Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan or call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136.
For details about Allegan County Health Department mask distribution, call 269-673-5411 or visit allegancounty.org/covid.

Senior Resources of West Michigan will mail N95 or KN95 respirators to seniors who need them as the devices become available. Seniors who wish to reserve their respirator should call 231-733-3585. Senior Resources of West Michigan serves Muskegon, Ottawa, and Oceana counties.

Retail stores

Stores such as Walgreens and Meijers are also receiving masks from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' free mask program to offer to the public at no cost. 

The N95 masks will be in boxes set on a table near the Meijer freeter stand of the grocery entrance. The greeter, who will be wearing gloves, will place the N95 masks in piles of three for the customers to take.

Customers should check walgreens.com/N95StoreList to find a Walgreens store near them with a supply of free respirators.

Read more articles by Andrea Goodell.