Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

How Will Health Dept. Free Mask Program Work?

Department plans to distribute 500,000 locally made masks.

Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik tweeted samples of the free masks last week. Photo provided by Milwaukee Health Department.

Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik tweeted samples of the free masks last week. Photo provided by Milwaukee Health Department.

By the end of August, Milwaukee residents will be able to get free masks provided by the city, officials said Monday.

The Milwaukee Care Mask Outreach Plan— which details how the city will distribute free, reusable masks— is undergoing the final stage of revisions.

Here’s a look at what we know about the plan so far.

What does the plan look like?

The city’s mask distribution plan will be released early this week, said Marlaina Jackson, the Milwaukee Health Department’s deputy commissioner of community health.

City leaders had originally announced the plan would be ready by Friday, July 31

The Health Department anticipates 500,000 reusable and locally made masks will be produced, Jackson said.

Last month, the Common Council directed Milwaukee Health Department Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik to create a plan to provide free masks as part of the city’s mask ordinance.

The MKE Cares ordinance requires masks be worn by everyone 3 and older inside public places and outside within 6 feet of non-family/household members.

Who is making the masks?

Jackson said masks are being created by Milwaukee businesses.

“While masks are important, we understand the economy has taken such a hit,” she said. “Whatever the Health Department can do to stimulate and support local businesses, that is always going to be our first goal when we have the opportunity.”

Blest LLC, Union Copy Co., Foxxy Locs and FlyBlooms are among local businesses partnering with the department to produce the free masks. Mask creation and designs follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

What is the plan’s timeline?

Since the mask ordinance began, the city has distributed disposable masks at health clinics as “Wave One” of a three-part plan, Jackson said.

In “Wave Two,” which will begin in late August, the city plans to purchase and distribute about 500,000 washable, reusable free masks within a 10 -to 12-week period.

Masks will be marked with a stylish design and the City of Milwaukee Health Department logo, Jackson said.

In “Wave Three,” the city will ramp down production of the masks but make sure to always have them available, Jackson said.

Where can residents find the free masks?

The free masks will be available at health centers and the Milwaukee Public libraries, where the disposable masks are already distributed. Jackson said the Hunger Task Force and other community partners will help distribute masks to increase access in child care facilities and other spaces in the community.

Until the reusable masks are ready, the distribution of disposable masks will continue at the following locations:

  • Keenan Health Center, 3200 N. 36th St.
  • Northwest Health Center, 7630 W. Mill Rd.
  • Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St.

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

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