Utah launched a program to issue free face masks to every resident of the state that doesn’t already have one during the coronavirus pandemic, local officials announced this week.
The state — using funds provided by the federal CARES Act — purchased two million face masks to give away to residents.
The Utah Manufacturers Association coordinated with manufacturers statewide to produce 1.5 million masks, and retailer Cotopaxi will provide 500,000, officials said in a statement. All masks will be made in Utah.
“We want to do everything we can as we work together as a state to combat COVID-19,” Gov. Gary R. Herbert said in the statement. “Wearing a mask when we are out in public may not be convenient, but it can help slow the spread of the virus. Let’s all do our part in stopping the spread and helping to protect those around us.”
The reusable, one-size-fits-all masks will “will last for many months and even years,” Lt. Governor Spencer Cox said Tuesday, according to KPCW.
Utahns can request masks at coronavirus.utah.gov/mask. Each household is only allowed one order, with a limit of six masks per order, Cox said.
Masks will be distributed to first responders through the state’s emergency management offices, officials said.
The masks are necessary as the state moves toward reopening its businesses, according to Cox.
“If we all do our part and we all wear these masks in public, there’s a real possibility we can get there sooner rather than later,” he said. “What we don’t want is to backslide, where we have a significant increase in infections, in deaths, in hospitalization rates.”
The state has some masks ready to ship now, but it may take one or two weeks to receive new masks, and another week to complete shipments to residents, according to officials.
Residents should not request masks if they already have access to one, due to surging demand, officials said.
The state has reported a total of 4343 coronavirus cases and 45 deaths, according to statistics last updated Tuesday.