Jan. 27, 2022 -- N95 masks are arriving at grocery stores and pharmacies this week, and consumers will be able to pick them up for free while supplies last.

The first batches are expected to arrive in some stores on Thursday, and many locations will begin offering them to customers on Friday, according to NPR.

Meijer, which operates more than 250 groceries and pharmacies throughout the Midwest, has received about 3 million masks. Customers can pick up masks from the greeter stand at the store entrance.

More than 2,200 Kroger stores with pharmacies will give out free masks, with the first shipment expected to arrive on Thursday, a spokeswoman told NPR.

Walgreens will likely begin offering masks in some stores on Friday, which will continue “on a rolling basis in the days and weeks following,” a spokesman told NPR.

Masks should arrive by Friday at Southeastern Grocers locations with in-store pharmacies, including Fresco y Mas, Harveys, and Winn-Dixie, according to CNN.

Hy-Vee received and began giving out masks last Friday, and most stores with pharmacies were giving them out Wednesday, according to Today.

CVS Pharmacy locations will offer free masks as early as Thursday, a spokesman told Today. That will include CVS Pharmacy locations inside Target and Schnucks.

Albertsons is “currently working to finalize details regarding inventory and distribution,” the chain told Today.

Rite Aid will have free masks in some stores at the end of the week, with all stores receiving them by early February, Today reported.

Walmart and Sam’s Club will offer free masks late next week at the earliest, according to NBC Chicago.

The Biden administration is sending out 400 million N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile. Each person can take up to three free masks, if they’re available, the Department of Health and Human Services has said.

The distribution of masks is meant to align with the CDC’s latest recommendation to wear an N95 or KN95 mask to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. When worn correctly over the mouth and nose, the high-filtration masks are made to filter out 95% or more of airborne particles.

The Biden administration is also sending masks to community health centers and COVID-19 test kits directly to Americans. The programs are ramping up now and should be fully running by early February, NPR reported.

Show Sources

NPR: “Free N95 masks are arriving at pharmacies and grocery stores. Here’s how to get yours.”

CNN: “Here’s how to get free N95 masks from pharmacies or community health centers.”

Today: “Which pharmacies will have free N-95 masks and when?”

NBC Chicago: “Walgreens, CVS, Chicago-Area Pharmacies to Distribute Free N95 Masks This Week.”

CDC: “COVID-19: Types of Masks and Respirators.”

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