Minnesota distributing 2 million KN95 masks

Schools and local health agencies will also get masks as the federal government begins its own distribution at pharmacies across the U.S.

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ST. PAUL — The state of Minnesota is distributing 2.1 million KN95 masks to schools, public health agencies and other groups with the aim of ensuring access to high-quality masks, the office of Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday, Jan. 27.

Of the millions of masks, 650,000 will go to public health agencies; 550,000 to schools; and the rest to clinics, child care centers, health department COVID-19 community coordinators and tribal nations, according to the announcement.

Minnesota Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz said the masks come from a large personal protective equipment stockpile the state established during the pandemic. Minnesota acquired the masks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at no cost and purchased others with state and federal emergency funds, Schultz said.

Public health agencies recommend N95 or KN95 masks over standard cloth masks as protection against the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19.

“Throughout the pandemic we have built a strong partnership with schools, local public health agencies, community groups, and others to make sure Minnesotans can access the tools they need to safely navigate COVID-19," Walz said in a statement. "That includes KN95 masks, which are especially important as we confront the highly contagious omicron variant.


"Studies constantly show that high-quality masks like KN95s better protect wearers from COVID-19 and help slow the spread of the virus. As we navigate the difficult weeks ahead, make sure you mask up in public to protect yourself, your family, and your community.”

Minnesota is distributing masks as the federal government begins its own distribution of 400 million masks to pharmacies and community health centers across the country.

In addition to masking, officials continue to urge testing and vaccination to prevent the spread and serious illness from COVID-19. More information on testing can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health website . The state also provides a vaccine locator map for finding nearby providers offering the shot.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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