Free N95 Masks Arriving at Pharmacies, Stores Around the US

The masks are some of the 400 million that are being distributed nationwide to combat the spread of the omicron variant

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Pharmacies and health centers around the country have begun distributing the first of the 400 million N95 masks the White House is sending out to combat the fast-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19.

President Joe Biden announced the initiative last week, sending out masks from the Strategic National Stockpile as health experts stressed the importance of high-quality face coverings to protect against omicron variant.

"We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks," Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration's COVID testing coordinator, told NBC News last week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance, saying that N95 masks offer the highest protection.

The Department of Health and Human Services said the masks would be available at "thousands of pharmacies and community health centers nationwide." The agency described the effort as "the largest deployment by the Strategic National Stockpile to date and it’s also the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history."

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