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State of Michigan is giving away 3.5 million KN95 masks

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
A KN95 mask. The State of Michigan is giving away 3.5 million masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The state of Michigan is handing out face masks to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 3.5 million masks are being distributed through community organizations, including local Department of Health and Human Services offices, health departments, and Area Agency on Aging offices.

“So, these masks that we’re making available that are being distributed to local agencies around the state are KN95 masks which are highly effective masks. They’re somewhat similar to the N95 masks that healthcare workers use,” said Bob Wheaton, spokesperson for Health and Human Services.

Even if you can get your hands on a N95 mask, you should leave that supply for hospital and nursing home workers who are caring for people with COVID-19.

The KN95 masks are free. You can find a nearby source for a mask by visiting Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan or calling 888-535-6136.

“They’re white, tightly fitting masks. Those are good for the public to use. As far as face coverings that are not effective and should be avoided: neck gaiters or any loosely tied bandana like that doesn’t eliminate particles from being spread,” Wheaton explained.

Plastic shields without a mask or the face coverings with vents are also not effective.

Health care experts recommend getting one of the KN95 masks, or wearing a three-layered washable mask or a three-layered disposable mask. Wear them over your mouth and your nose.

While a vaccine is coming, until enough people are vaccinated, the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is a good mask, social distancing, and washing your hands often.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained a typo, describing N95 masks as K95 masks. It's been corrected above.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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