ENCINITAS, Calif. — The federal government’s rollout of free N95 masks began this week across the U.S., but in San Diego County, there seems to be some confusion about when they will arrive, where you can find them and who’s responsible for distribution.
“They come into the store and ask for mask and I’m like, ‘I don’t know,’” CVS employee Lisa Ponce said.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, which is overseeing the program for the federal government, the N95 mask rollout will begin incrementally this week and will be complete by mid-February.
FOX 5 reached out to a dozen local pharmacies, including the big chains like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens. Walgreens says they expect them in select stores by Friday while CVS and Rite Aid don’t have an exact date, only that they are arriving “in the coming days.”
The 50-plus San Diego County community health centers will also distribute masks, but on a smaller scale. Masks will arrive with signage and flyers for pharmacies to use to help frontline essential workers with distribution, but Ponce says that is not going to help.
Ponce says she doesn’t think it’s fair that “we should have to work for free for the government.”
“I’m already working four people jobs for one person and now I’m supposed to hand out free masks? I think I just put them in a box and say have at it,” she said.
The Biden Administration has promised to distribute 400 million free N95 masks – every person will get three on a first-come, first-serve basis.