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Free N95 masks: Where to get them in Montgomery County

Each resident can get up to four ZYB-11 brand N95s, which are considered better at preventing the spread, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, supplies like high-quality masks have been difficult to come by. Nearly two years in, county-level distributions of N-95s are coming to local residents as CDC guidance continues to change on the best ways to mitigate spread of the coronavirus.

Beginning Friday, Montgomery County residents can pick up N-95 masks at any of 19 county library locations also providing at-home testing kits, County Executive Marc Elrich announced in a briefing Wednesday.

Each resident is allowed up to four masks each and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to County officials. The ZYB-11 brand N95 masks are considered better at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting people from infection than lower-quality paper or cloth masks.

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“A key element that helps reduce community transmission is the wearing of a high-quality face covering,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “We know that masks work and having these higher-quality face masks as compared to simple face coverings, increases protection."

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The local distribution effort comes in tandem with a new federal plan to get more good masks in people's hands. The Biden administration has begun making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings.

The White House announced last week that the masks will come from the government's Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They have begun shipping for distribution starting late this week, the White House said.

MoCo Libraries where masks and kits will be available for pickup from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday:

MoCo Libraries where masks and kits will be available for pickup from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday:

According to the release, the hundreds of thousands of masks being distributed at libraries were purchased directly by the County and deliveries will be ongoing for as long as supplies last and the omicron surge continues. When masks are available from the State, those masks will be integrated into the distribution process.

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