The rollout of free N95 masks has started across the Inland Northwest: Here’s where you can find yours

SPOKANE, Wa. — The rollout of free N95 masks in Washington has started. This is part of the Biden Administration’s plan to provide 400 million N95 masks to the public.

The emphasis for these N95 masks comes following an announcement from the Center for Disease Control that regular cloth and medical masks don’t work to protect against COVID’s new variants.

“It’s a highly infectious virus. So, upgrade your mask. You need a better quality mask, especially if you’re working, to protect your staff, your employees are what we’d like to see,” Ali Mokdad, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Washington told 4 News Now.

We checked various pharmacies across the Spokane region after hearing they were available on the other side of the Cascades.

One Wal-Mart told us the same thing, but the Walmart at the North Division “Y” had a bin full of them. The two Walmarts in Post Falls also had the masks available.

Rite-Aid, Costco, and Safeway told us: “We’re getting them, we just don’t know when.”

A Walgreens associate said their Spokane locations would not be getting the government-funded masks. We reached out to their corporate offices but haven’t heard back yet.

A CVS associate told us their locations, within Targets, would not be getting them.

“You don’t know how COVID is going to hit you. I got it when I was 25. I still have long-term COVID symptoms a year later. I thought I was going to be healthy, over in 2 weeks, but like there are people that are still dying from it. We’ve almost hit a million people. When are people going to wake up and do something?” one Spokane woman told us. After a relentless search looking for an N95 mask, she ended up buying her own online.

Under Biden’s plan, pharmacies said every person should be eligible to get three masks for free. However, there are more than 329 million people in the country. The math doesn’t add up.

As we continue to get the word about our local pharmacies getting them in stock, we’ll keep you up to date.

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