Walmart Just Sent This Major COVID Update to Shoppers

You might notice something new in stores soon.

Before 2020, Walmart was a very different place: it was open 24 hours and you probably would've never even thought to go there to buy a face mask—or anywhere for that matter. But like many other retailers, this company has had to make a number of changes these last couple years to keep up with the spread of COVID. Stores are no longer open all hours of the day, and some have even had to undergo temporary closures. Walmart has also become a hub for COVID vaccinations, at-home tests, and even antiviral coronavirus medication. Now, the retailer is making yet another alteration to stores in the name of COVID. Read on to find out what Walmart is updating this time.

RELATED: Walmart Is Now Barring These Shoppers From Entering Stores.

Walmart says it expects free N95 masks to be available to shoppers soon.

Walmart line outside the store with masked people practicing social distancing 6 feet apart during Covid-19 Corona Virus Pandemic.
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Walmart shoppers might soon be able to get their hands on free N95 masks. The company said that it anticipates that masks will be available at some of its stores by the second week of February, CBS-affiliate KENS 5 in San Antonio, Texas, reported on Jan. 31. The no-cost protective equipment should be available at "more than 5,100 Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs across the country" by that time-frame, officials for the company told the news outlet.

These free masks are part of a federal government initiative.

Pharmacist hand holding N95 mask in pharmacy drugstore
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Walmart is getting these free masks as part of a new initiative from the federal government. On Jan. 19, President Joe Biden announced that his White House administration would make 400 million N95 masks available to people in the U.S. at no cost, CNN reported. The masks are coming from the country's Strategic National Stockpile, which has stored respirators for the country.

"From the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked to meet the needs of our communities and help keep them safe and healthy by setting-up COVID testing sites, administering tens of millions of vaccines and boosters, and dispensing authorized COVID-19 oral antiviral medications," Walmart officials told KENS 5. "We are proud to continue to serve our customers, members and associates now through N95 mask distribution as part of the US Federal Retail Pharmacy Program."

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Shoppers will have a limited number of masks they can take.

A self-checkout kiosk at a Walmart store
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According to Walmart officials, the masks should be located at the front of stores when they become available. "You can pick up your masks at the front of stores, and in clubs, by following signage to help you locate masks and find resources to help you understand proper fitting," the company states on its website. "At Sam's Club locations, the general public may get their free masks while supplies allow without a membership."

But shoppers will be limited in terms of how many free N95s they can take. There will be a pick-up limit of "three masks per person as determined by the federal government," according to Walmart. A White House official explained to CNN that this limit was placed in order "to ensure broad access for all Americans."

But the free respirators won't only be available at Walmart.

Exterior of a Walgreens drug store on a summer day
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The White House initiative is not limited to Walmart stores. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 21 retailers that are participating in the U.S. Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which is responsible for distributing the free N95 masks. This includes companies such as Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS.

Some Walgreens shoppers might already be able to retrieve their free masks. According to KENS 5, the company said masks have already started rolling out at some stores across the country and they will continue being sent to more stores in the next few days and weeks. There is also an updated list of where free N95 masks are already available, which currently includes Walgreens stores in states like Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. "We anticipate all participating stores will receive supply by mid-February," Walgreens officials told the news outlet.

CVS, on the other hand, has confirmed that it will be distributing free masks to shoppers, but local officials told KENS 5 they do not have specific timeline for when they would receive their shipment, as they are arriving at stores on a rolling basis. "We'll be offering free N95 masks provided by the Federal Government at the nearly 9,800 CVS Pharmacy locations where vaccines are being administered, including locations within Target and Schnucks. Inventory has begun arriving at these locations and will continue on a rolling basis as additional supply becomes available," CVS officials told the news outlet.

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

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