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Millions of free face coverings are being distributed across NYC this month

Pick one up at your nearest Grab & Go meal site, city park, or grocery store.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

New York City will distribute 7.5 million free face coverings across the five boroughs over the next several weeks.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the giveaway on Monday, saying that "wherever you turn, you're going to be offered a face covering" for weeks to come. The giveaway initially started at city parks this past weekend and will be expanded to grocery stores, Grab & Go meal sites, public housing sites, and anywhere the NYPD and Parks Department is enforcing social distancing, including the Staten Island Ferry.

"We had a great response," he said about the park distribution. "We're going to build that up to much higher level and ramp up the plan, which will take effect starting immediately."

Two types of masks will be offered: 5 million three-ply medical masks and 2.5 million cloth face coverings.

Both are reusable if they stay dry. The cloth coverings can be washed and reused. 

Wearing some form of a mask keeps asymptomatic people (those without symptoms) from spreading germs to others through speaking, coughing or sneezing, according to the CDC

"We know people forget them or don't have one so the city is going to step in," de Blasio said. "It's going to make it easier for New Yorkers who want to keep people safe, which is clearly the vast majority of people in this city."

You can use this map and search engine to type in your address, or wherever you are located, to find your nearest handout spot and the day and time you can collect one.

The city started this past weekend by handing out hundreds of thousands of coverings at the "hardest-hit communities and high-traffic parks," according to de Blasio. 

Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo made it illegal not to wear a face covering when out in public where it isn't possible to distance yourself from others.

"If you're at an intersection and there's people in the intersection, put the mask on," he said. "You're right to go out for a walk in the park... the dog is getting on your nerves... fine—don't infect me. You don't have the right to infect me." 

While there is a road map now written for reopening NYC in the future, for right now, New York adjusts to a new "normal" with happenings like a vending machine selling masks popping up on the Lower East Side.

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