Ohio distributed nearly 38 million free face masks so far

Ohio – According to state officials, since the beginning of the pandemic, the state of Ohio has handed out about 38 million free face masks and plans to distribute millions more.

So far, 23 million masks have been sent to Ohio employers by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which is currently working to send out another 23 million masks by the end of June, according to BWC spokesman Tony Gottschlich. The goal is to send about 50 masks per employee for each of the two distribution rounds, he said.

The Ohio Department of Aging mailed 10 million masks last month to 2.1 million Ohioans age 65 and older, and nearly 5 million masks have been handed out as part of the Ohio Department of Health’s “More Than A Mask” campaign, which is targeted at minorities and vulnerable communities.

Of the masks sent out, the only ones that are medical-grade are about 2 million KN95 masks distributed by the “More Than A Mask” campaign, according to Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Gov. Mike DeWine. The BWC masks are reusable cloth masks that are good for about 15 washes each, and the Department of Aging masks are disposable.

Earlier this week, Michigan’s state health department launched a campaign to distribute 3.5 million free KN95 masks via state and local offices, as well as community organizations.

The Department of Aging’s masks are paid for with federal coronavirus aid money, according to a department release.

The second round of 23 million masks currently being sent out by BWC has a price tag of $24.4 million, state records show. That money comes from the bureau’s budget, which is funded by employer premiums, according to Gottschlich.

An state health department spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a phone call Friday asking the cost of and funding source for the masks given under the “More Than A Mask” program.

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