Michigan health department distributing 10 million free KN95 masks

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is distributing 10 million free KN95 masks that residents obtain through local offices and other community groups.

Gov. Gretchen Whtimer announced the effort in a statement Thursday, saying the masks "can keep families and communities safe."

"I encourage Michiganders to pick up a free KN95 mask at their local MDHHS office, public health department or community organization," the governor said. "Together, we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe."

A graphic from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services encourages people to wear "well-fitting" masks.

Amid a spike in COVID-19 infections because of the contagious omicron variant, Michigan health officials have encouraged residents to wear well-fitting and high-quality masks in crowded settings.

Well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95 masks offer more protection than woven products, the health department said in the Thursday statement.

KN95 masks are similar to, but should not be confused with, N95 masks that are often used by health care workers as part of their work in higher-risk settings, the department said.

In addition to state health department offices, local health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices, the free masks are available through Community Action Agencies,  federally qualified health centers and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

Residents can find a mask distribution site at Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan.

The masks being provided by the state are in addition to 400 million N95 masks being made available by the Biden administration to pharmacies and health centers from the Strategic National Stockpile, according to the health department.

cmauger@detroitnews.com