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Michigan giving away 4 million free face masks to residents

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 11:11 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The state of Michigan is giving away 4 million free face masks to people who need them most.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the MI Mask Aid program on Friday in partnership with Ford Motor Company and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The masks will be distributed to community action agencies across Michigan, including 1.5 million that FEMA already sent.

FEMA is sending 1 million more masks and Ford is sending 1.5 million masks to low-income schools, the city of Detroit and federally qualified health care centers.

“Michigan needs to continue to ‘mask up’ to protect us all from COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “Vulnerable populations may have difficulties buying masks and our schools need face coverings to keep students, staff and community members safe.”

Call Michigan’s coronavirus hotline at 1-888-535-6136 for information on where to find a free face mask.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said masks and face coverings have been proven to limit the spread of coronavirus by blocking some -- but not all -- droplets from getting through. That protects a person wearing a face covering and everyone around them.

Gordon said state leaders were seeing racial disparities in access to masks and face coverings similar to disparities seen with access to health care during the coronavirus pandemic. The MI Mask Aid program was developed with input from the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities to help eliminate those.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the automaker already has produced 72 million pieces of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic and production of items like masks is continuing. The company is leveraging his dealer network to help deliver masks to communities.

“This is a moment when our country needs us and we’re stepping up,” Hackett said.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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