Earlier this week, the state announced that face coverings are required in public, effective June 26. The order, in addition to Washington Safe Start, is intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as businesses reopen and outdoor activities increase.
According to a news release from the state, “wearing a face covering can help save lives… [but] not everyone can easily buy or make them.” For that reason, the state launched a program to ensure access to free, reusable cloth masks for all low-income Washingtonians.
As part of that program, Whatcom County received a shipment of over 137,000 masks from the state last week. Whatcom Unified Command (WUC) began distribution the next day and all the masks were distributed by June 24. (These masks are in addition to 10,000 durable masks purchased and distributed earlier this month by WUC.)
As the state news release indicates, criteria for distribution of the state-provided masks was that they were intended for residents below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
The masks were distributed in bundles to Whatcom Unified Command’s (WUC) social service partners, who have (or will) distribute to their clients and subsidiary agencies. The distribution includes over two dozen agencies that provide direct service or support to populations that are vulnerable or low-income, such as:
• Food banks
• Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe
• All public school districts (distributed by Bellingham School District)
• Whatcom Homeless Service Center
• Council on Aging
• Opportunity Council, and
• SeaMar, among others
Masks for all the school districts were apportioned based on their free or reduced lunch program numbers.
Any organizations who serve community members that meet the state’s criteria and who have not received a mask, could contact North Sound Accountable Community of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org or their local food bank. Individuals in need of cloth masks can contact Whatcom County Community Helpers (www.whatcomhelpers.org). For more information on face coverings and how to be compliant with the news state order, visit http://whatcomcounty.us/3404/Directive-To-Wear-Face-Coverings.
Masks were distributed via WUC consistent with objectives to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help support the community’s most vulnerable populations during the epidemic. For more information on the local response to COVID-19, visit WhatcomCOVID.com or Whatcom County Health Department COVID-19.
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To help our community’s vulnerable and lower income residents comply with the state’s COVID-19 mask directive, Whatcom Unified Command has distributed nearly 150,000 masks locally…