COLORADO, USA — Gov. Jared Polis' office announced Tuesday that KN95 and surgical-grade masks will be available for free at various locations across the state this week, but some of the locations have said they don't have masks to give out.
Many libraries will begin handing out those masks on Thursday. Information about where to find them can be found below.
Polis' office originally said the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) will offer the masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 at some public libraries, fire stations, recreation centers, VFWs, YMCAs and community centers.
On Wednesday morning, the website that lists distribution sites changed that to "public libraries and other community sites." Masks were delivered Tuesday to the sites that opted into the program, according to officials.
"We updated our website this morning because people were not looking at the list of distribution sites to find a participating location and were calling and visiting sites that did not yet have masks. We want to avoid any additional confusion," the state health department said in response to a 9NEWS inquiry. "Only the sites listed on this site are currently distributing masks. We are adding fire stations, YMCAs, VFWs and more as we ship them masks. We have invited those types of sites to opt-in to the distribution program."
The department also said they "appreciate Coloradans' patience as the distribution sites get up and running" and that more locations would be added soon.
According to the governor's office, all participating sites received their orders of masks on Tuesday. The governor's office encouraged calling ahead to ensure the site you are visiting has masks available.
On Wednesday, the state health department said it delivered 82,500 KN95s and 226,000 surgical masks to distribution points on Tuesday and was shipping more on Wednesday.
Some fire agencies that have said on social media that they are not currently distribution locations include the Denver Fire Department, Thornton Fire Rescue, Greeley Fire Department, Arvada Fire Protection District, West Metro Fire Rescue, Brighton Fire Rescue and the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
Poudre Fire Authority also said they're not a distribution site, but said sites will be open on Thursday and that they'll share details as soon as possible about where people can go.
The City of Boulder said they are excited to help distribute masks but they had not received any as of this writing.
Elizabeth Bednarcik, division chief of prevention at the Brighton Fire Rescue District, said they have been getting calls from people asking if they are distributing KN95 masks.
“We’re here for our community. That’s our number one goal for safety, for our entire district," she said. "So anything we can do to help the community become safer, and remain safer, especially with this pandemic, we absolutely want to participate. At this point we just don’t have any information."
Bednarcik said the department does not have any masks to give out.
“If we get the information that we can be a distribution center for masks for our community, we’ll just have to look at how that logistically looks for our departments," she said. “Obviously we want safety for our community. We also need to think about safety for our own stations and our own crews who are out on the front lines every day with this.”
Libraries don't all have masks
While the Denver Public Library was listed on the state's website as a distribution site as of Wednesday morning, DPL said in a statement later Wednesday that there were no masks for public distribution at any of its branches and said it was "sorry for the confusion and the inconvenience."
DPL said it was working with the state to remove its locations from the state's list of distribution centers.
Late Wednesday afternoon, DPL was no longer on the state's list, and there was a notation at the bottom saying that the City and County of Denver was working to identify recreation centers that will have masks for public distribution.
In addition, the state said it was focused on identifying "additional Denver-area distribution sites" and said they would be posted online.
Jefferson County Public Library also tweeted that it does not currently have masks available for distribution.
Other library systems listed on the state's website, such as the Arapahoe Libraries, said they had a small number of masks and had already handed out most of their supply by lunchtime Wednesday. The library system said they hoped to get more from the state, but there was no timetable on when that might happen.
The Bemis Public Library in Littleton also had a supply, but said they had only received about half of what they had requested and by 10:45 a.m. there were only two boxes left. A spokesperson said around noon, it was likely there were none left.
Locations that had masks
The Alamosa Library began handing out masks Wednesday morning and are handing bags out with four surgical masks and one KN95 mask to each person at this time.
They initially received 2,000 surgical masks and 500 KN95 masks and have ordered more, according to a spokesperson.
Aurora Public Libraries
The Aurora Public Library system received 4,000 masks and will start distribution on Thursday, Jan. 20 at their six locations during library business hours which are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Masks will be handed out until the supply is exhausted.
The Berthoud Community Library District will begin distribution on Thursday, Jan. 20 on a first-come, first-serve basis during regular hours.
They're open from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.
Anythink Brighton, located at 327 E. Bridge St, began distributing KN95 and surgical-grade masks on Wednesday. There is a limit of five masks per person while supplies last.
The Broomfield Library is closed until Saturday for its annual deep cleaning and staff development but will be open as a mask distribution site starting Saturday, Jan. 22. Until that time they will be distributing the masks at Broomfield's two rec centers:
- Paul Derda Rec Center -13201 Lowell Blvd
- Broomfield Community Center- 280 Spader Way
On its website, the Estes Valley Library said mask distribution will begin through the state's program on Monday, Jan. 24.
The Poudre River Library system said on its website that they will begin handing out the masks on Thursday, Jan. 20 with a limit of five per person per month while supplies last.
The library system said they have masks to hand out while supplies last but said they were not prepared for the demand. They're hoping to order more from the state to keep up.
In a tweet, the city of Northglenn said that residents could go to the nearest Anythink Library branch. The tweet also said they're working stand up additional locations.
The Bud Werner Memorial Library is distributing KN95 masks, but only received 500 from the state, so they're asking people at this time to take just what they need (instead of five) until additional shipments arrive.
Masks will also be available at these other library locations:
Oak Creek Public Library
West Routt Library District
Yampa Public Library
The city of Westminster said it had received a shipment of KN95 and surgical masks and would begin distribution on Thursday, Jan. 20 at its two libraries, College Hill and Irving Street.
They'll be handing out one mask per person, per day, up to 5 a month.
The Clearview Library said they have masks and will hand out five masks per adult per month until their supplies run out.
There's a limit of five masks per person per month, according to the governor's office.
The distribution, according to the governor's office, is part of an effort to provide high-quality personal protective equipment to Coloradans who might be especially at risk during the pandemic and future public health emergencies. With the ongoing surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant, the state recommends people upgrade from cloth masks to medical-grade masks like KN95 or surgical masks.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that some locations listed as distribution centers by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have said they are not distributing masks at this time.
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