NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — It’s being dubbed the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history — the roll out of some 400 million, free N95 masks to the general public.

The initiative was announced by the Biden administration last week and will distribute the masks — now high in demand — to pharmacies and community health centers across the country. Some of those participating local pharmacies include CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens, Costco, Rite-Aid and Walmart.
Customers will be allowed to pick up a maximum of three masks per person.

As the program gets underway, midwest states COVID cases are currently rising have already received their shipment of masks. Other states, such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, will likely receive and start to distribute their first round of N95s by Friday.

The masks are just the latest weapon now made available to the masses to combat COVID-19

“The N95 is a medical grade respirator that is capable of filtering out at least 95 percent of airborne particles,” Sandra Gutierrez, assoc. editor at Popular Science Magazine explained. 

While N95s are commonly used in the medical field as a one-time use, experts says if they’re stored correctly, they can have a long shelf life.

“A 2-3 hours of continuous use is the appropriate amount of time you can wear an N95, but if you want to reuse them, the safest best way you can do it is by rotating your masks,” she said. “When you get home, you take off your mask, you put it inside a paper bag and you seal it. You put it somewhere that is well ventilated and then you go about your week with your Tuesday mask and then your Wednesday mask.”

To see the full comprehensive list of participating pharmacies and community health centers in your area, click here.