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As counties begin to reopen, wearing a face covering can help save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19. But not everyone can easily buy or make them. State officials launched a program earlier this month to ensure access to free, reusable cloth face coverings for all low-income Washingtonians.

Personnel with the state’s Emergency Management Division, in partnership with the procurement team at the state Department of Enterprise Services, purchased 3.6 million cloth face masks with a plan to distribute two masks to every Washingtonian below 200% of the federal poverty level (which equates to $52,400 for a family of four). In just two weeks, the state distributed nearly 2.8 million masks and is working on filling the remaining orders from local emergency management offices. The state delivers the face coverings to local emergency management offices who then work with various community organizations and service providers to deliver them to individuals.

This program comes just as Gov. Jay Inslee and state Secretary of Health John Wiesman have announced a statewide order requiring use of face coverings in public spaces.

Local news stories highlight the program’s success in Kitsap County and Thurston County.

People interested in where they can pick up a mask should contact their county’s local emergency managers. More information about face coverings is available on the state’s COVID-19 website and the Lt. Governor’s office Mask Challenge page.


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