WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Joe Biden announced this month that the federal government is giving away 400 million free N95 masks that will be distributed to pharmacies and stores nationwide.
It's all in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19, which has continued to keep cases high in the U.S.
The president said the distribution of the masks would begin last week.
However, they still have not arrived at many locations in Palm Beach County.
The Biden administration announced free N95 masks & to be distributed to pharmacies & stores. Locally they still have not arrived at some locations. Winn-Dixie in Lake Worth was suppose to receive them by today but had a sign that said no mask.Same issue at CVS. @WPTV @FOX29WFLX pic.twitter.com/QrkDPF5pmh— JOSH NAVARRO (@JoshNavarroTV) January 31, 2022
Workers at a Winn-Dixie near Lake Worth Beach said they were supposed to receive them by Monday, but a sign was posted that said no masks were available yet.
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"They are treating it like a bureaucratic mess," said Josh Stewart, who hasn't been able to find an N95 mask.
Stewart said the COVID-19 response should be more organized and faster.
"They are calling it a national emergency, but they're acting like it's like you're in line at the DMV. They're being really slow and they're not acting with urgency," Stewart said. "If it was urgent, they should have National Guard troops or some kind of drive-up clinic just like you have a drive-up testing where you can get your N95 mask."
A CVS in Boynton Beach had a sign posted Monday that said "free government-provided N95 masks are not yet available at the store."
Karol Zikas of Boynton Beach said she has not been able to obtain a free N95 mask yet.
"You tell me this is gonna be here at this time? If I have to wait in line, or whatever it takes, that's what I'm gonna do. But when you tell me this is gonna take place and it doesn’t, it's just disappointing that it can't be a little more organized," Zikas said.
In the meantime, medical experts say to continue to wear any kind of mask, especially if you fall into the high-risk group.
"At the end of the day, any mask is better than no mask," said Dr. Kitonga Kiminyo, an infectious disease specialist.
A spokeswoman with CVS said the N95 masks have begun arriving at 9,800 store locations.
"Customers can request masks at the front of store checkout, and signs will be posted to indicate N95 mask availability," according to a statement from CVS. "Free N95 masks will be available at the pharmacy counter."
A spokeswoman with Publix said they are also participating in the federal government program to distribute N95 masks.
However, as of Monday, it was unclear when they might be available at stores in Florida.
"We are awaiting further information on delivery schedules to determine when the masks will be available for distribution in our stores," according to Publix spokeswoman Nicole Krauss.
A spokesman from Walgreens said Monday that masks have begun to roll out to the first wave of stores and will continue to roll out into additional stores in the coming days and weeks.
"We anticipate all participating stores will receive supply by mid-February," according to a written statement from Walgreen.
Walgreens posted on their website a list of stores that will have the free masks, which includes two locations near Lake Worth Beach and one each in Okeechobee and Boynton Beach.
Walgreens stores set to have free N95 masks include:
- 6975 S Congress Ave., Lake Worth, 33462
- 4020 S Jog Rd., Lake Worth, 33467
- 399 N Congress Ave., Boynton Beach, 33426
- 100 Northwest Park St. Okeechobee, 34972