Free KN-95 masks for adults are available in limited quantities throughout Garfield County
Colorado is distributing free KN-95 face masks at several locations throughout Garfield County.
The Colorado Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is providing a limited number of rated face masks, sized for adults only, to community distribution points throughout the state, said Carrie Godes, a public health specialist for Garfield County Public Health.
“Demand has been high, and supplies have been limited, but we’re hoping to see more masks come in over time” Godes said.
Currently, supplies are limited to five masks per adult per month, she added. The free KN-95 masks can be picked up at the Glenwood Springs Fire Department, Grand Valley Fire Protection District in Parachute, Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority stations in El Jebel (although the address comes up as being in Carbondale) and Basalt and all public libraries throughout the county.
The list of pickup locations, however, continues to evolve as more locations are approved for distribution, so Godes suggested people go to COVID19.Colorado.gov/freemasks for an updated list of mask pick up locations.
On the spectrum of protection against droplets, KN-95 masks are better than both cloth and surgical masks, but not quite as good as N-95 masks, which Godes said require precise fitting to ensure maximum protection.
“The biggest thing is finding a mask that fits you well, whether that’s a KN-95 or not is less important,” she said.
Side by side, KN-95 and N-95 masks are similar — both are rated with 95% filtration efficiency, according to the National Institute of Health. However, N95 masks are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, while KN-95 masks are manufactured in China and meet standards specific to China.
Godes said the KN-95 masks being distributed are not rated for children, but public schools are working on a similar program to provide free child-sized masks.
“We are still seeing high, but declining numbers of omicron in Garfield County,” she said. “So we are still advising people to wear a mask when they are out and about. We have flu that is circulating and respiratory syncytial virus is circulating, among others, so what works for one virus is very effective for others.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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