MICHIGAN — As the state surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, Michigan’s health department is distributing 3.5 million free masks as part of its Mask Up, Mask Right campaign.
Free KN95 masks provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be distributed by community organizations, including local MDHSS offices, health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices. Residents who need masks can pick one up from partner sites across the state. Find a distribution site at Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan or call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136.
The health department says “masking right” includes wearing one of three options of masks that provide stronger protection: Three-layered washable cloth face coverings, three-layered disposable masks or KN95 masks.
People are also urged to wear their mask correctly: having it secured over the nose and mouth and snugly fitting without gaps. KN95 masks are similar to but should not be confused with N95 masks that are intended for health care workers who are engaged as part of their work in higher-risk settings.
With the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic still a major issue for the state, Governor Whitmer reiterated her call to the federal government on Monday to to pass relief funding for states.
The new COVID-19 relief package signed into law by President Trump last month does not include that funding, a point of compromise between Democrats and Republicans in Congress who priorities different aspects of aid.
“We still need our leaders in Washington to pass a relief bill that includes federal funding for states to fund crucial services like police and fire, emergency responders, Medicaid, higher education, and more,” Whitmer said. “These services could face cuts without help from the federal government. I will continue holding our leaders in Washington accountable.”
Whitmer did work with the state’s legislature to pass and sign a bipartisan $106 Million Relief Plan for Michigan workers, small businesses, and more, last month.
On the vaccine front, Whitmer said her administration, led by Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, has been working with local health officials and health care providers to begin distributing the safe and effective vaccine, starting with the most vulnerable populations like health care workers and skilled nursing home residents and staff.
The national vaccine distribution system is off to a rough start, with even President-elect Biden warning that vaccines may not reach regular Americans soon enough this year to significantly curb the continuing death toll of the virus.
In Michigan, 337,875 total first-doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed. Wayne County has received 16,850 of these, excluding Detroit, which has received 26,275 vaccines. Staff in nursing homes in Michigan have begun getting immunized, as have other workers supporting healthcare functions.