WATERTOWN — Soon, KN95 masks will be available to many north country residents.
Jefferson County announced on Thursday that the county has received about 51,000 KN95 masks from the state. The masks will be provided to each town and the city of Watertown, and nonprofit organizations in the city such as the Community Action Planning Council, Urban Mission and Salvation Army.
The county also said this will be a one-time allotment of masks, and no additional supplies from the state are anticipated.
Jefferson County’s population of more than 115,000 means it will not be possible for every resident to receive a mask.
Each town and city will announce when and where people can receive masks next week.
The county is also reminding people that the masks have limited reusability and that they should be disposed after extended use.
The county is also expecting to receive at-home test kits from the state, but officials do not know at this time when the tests kits will arrive, or how they will be distributed.
Town and village of Massena residents will have an opportunity to receive a free KN95 mask when they’re distributed between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday at the Building and Code Enforcement Office, at the Massena Fire Station, 34 Andrews St.
The glass doors will be open to the public during those hours, and James Caruso from the code office will be distributing the masks. Quantities are limited, with approximately 1,000 masks available for distribution on a first-come, first-served basis. They will be limited to one per household member.
KN95 masks use multiple layers of synthetic material to protect against outside particles. The masks feature a seam down the middle that makes it possible to fold the masks in half. The masks use ear loops to secure the face covering.
They are better than surgical masks or cloth masks, according to ECRI, an independent nonprofit organization that focuses on safety, quality and cost-effectiveness of care across all health care settings worldwide. They are most appropriate in cases where the individual doesn’t expect to come into contact with bodily fluids.
Massena Mayor Gregory M. Paquin said that, while the masks aren’t graded for use by medical professionals, “it’s graded pretty well for your average citizen,” and he suggested residents get one on Monday.
“Definitely. It’s anything that we can try to do as we hopefully get on the downturn,” he said.
In addition to encouraging mask wearing, Mr. Paquin urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I would ask the citizens throughout Massena, if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please seriously consider taking the vaccine — medical science has shown that it is safe; it is effective. We all understand this. It doesn’t necessarily prevent actually catching the virus. However, if you do catch the virus and you are vaccinated, the symptoms will be much milder and the chances of going into the hospital are far, far, far less,” Mr. Paquin said. “So, please, I would encourage everyone to do their part to consider getting a vaccination.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a KN95 mask is not available, one way to ensure safety is by wearing one medical procedure mask underneath a cloth mask. The CDC says you should not combine two medical procedure masks or combine a KN95 mask with any other type of mask.