Walgreens Just Made This COVID Announcement for Shoppers

A new change is coming to stores this week.

For the past almost two years, the COVID pandemic has forced many companies across the U.S. to step up. For instance, Walmart has temporarily closed stores to provide extra sanitation measures, while Macy's cut its hours to alleviate staffing pressures amid rising cases. Pharmacy chains like Walgreens have also been an integral part of this fight. From providing vaccinations to selling protective equipment like at-home COVID tests, this retailer has been constantly evolving as the battle against the virus continues. And now Walgreens has made another announcement for shoppers that even furthers this commitment. Read on to find out what COVID measure is being added to these stores soon.

RELATED: Walmart and Kroger Just Gave This Major COVID Announcement for Shoppers.

Walgreens says it will start distributing free N95 masks this week.

Pharmacist hand holding N95 mask in pharmacy drugstore

As part of a federal government initiative, Walgreens has confirmed that it will start distributing free N95 masks to the public this week, NBC Chicago first reported. According to the pharmacy chain, some locations across the country are expected to have them available to distribute before the weekend.

"We expect the first stores to begin offering masks on Friday, Jan. 28 and will continue on a rolling basis in the days and weeks following," a Walgreens spokesperson said in a statement to the news outlet. "Participating stores will have signage indicating mask availability."

The pharmacy chain said that it was "pleased to partner" with the White House to make "N95 masks in varying sizes available free of charge at participating Walgreens locations while supplies last," CNN reported. A spokesperson for company also told the news outlet that "customers and patients can pick up a maximum of three masks per person" when they become available.

The White House plans to send out 400 million N95 masks.

nurse holding an N95 face mask protection during Coronavirus epidemic

These masks have been made available to Walgreens by the White House. President Joe Biden's administration announced on Jan. 19 that it would distribute 400 million high-quality N95 masks for no cost to people in the U.S. amid the ongoing spread of Omicron, The Washington Post reported. According to the newspaper, the N95 masks will come from the government's Strategic National Stockpile.

"This effort represents the largest deployment by the Strategic National Stockpile to date and it's also the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history," Dawn O'Connell, an assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), wrote in a statement on Jan. 21.

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Walgreens is not the only retailer that is planning to give out these masks.

The exterior of a Walmart store

While Walgreens is one of the first retailers to give a definitive date on the release of these masks, it is not the only one planning to distribute them. According to O'Connell, free N95 masks are already being sent out and "will be made available at thousands of pharmacies and community health centers nationwide." According to CNET, participating retailers will include Kroger, Rite Aid, and Publix.

CVS and Walmart have also both confirmed that they will be distributing the free masks in the coming weeks as well, but neither have given an exact timeline. "We are currently finalizing the operational details of this program and will provide more information once available," a CVS spokesperson told CNET. And a Walmart spokesperson said that the respirators "will be available over the next few weeks … [and] eventually, all Walmart and Sam's Club locations will have N95 masks."

The CDC says respirators can offer higher protection against COVID.

woman are going to work.she wears N95 mask.prevent PM2.5 dust and smog

The use of N95 masks by the general public has been a point of contention throughout the pandemic, as earlier supply shortages pushed officials and experts into recommending that they be reserved for health care workers. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask guidelines on Jan. 14, encouraging the use of respirators like N95 masks and clarifying that only surgical N95s, which "are a specific type of respirator," need to be reserved for healthcare settings.

According to the agency, N95 masks can filter at least 95 percent of air particles, as well as contain your own respiratory droplets to prevent exposing others—making it one of the most effective types of face coverings. "While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection," the CDC states.

The agency also warns that people in the U.S. should wear masks that are well-fitting and that they can stand to wear for an extended amount of time, if need be—and that might not be an N95 respirator. "Some masks and respirators offer higher levels of protection than others, and some may be harder to tolerate or wear consistently than others. It is most important to wear a well-fitted mask or respirator correctly that is comfortable for you and that provides good protection," the CDC explains.

RELATED: Walgreens and CVS Just Issued This COVID Warning to All Shoppers.

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