Four million free masks are being provided to Michigan residents who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 through a partnership involving the state, Ford Motor Company and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today.
Low-income residents, seniors, schools and homeless shelters will benefit from the MI Mask Aid partnership that is part of the Mask Up Michigan campaign.
“Michigan needs to continue to ‘mask up’ to protect us all from COVID-19,” Gov. Whitmer said. “Vulnerable populations may have difficulties buying masks and our schools need face coverings to keep students, staff and community members safe. I am thrilled that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Ford and FEMA are working together to help control the spread of the coronavirus.”
The project is in partnership with Gov. Whitmer’s Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.
The irony of this pandemic that requires physical distancing is that it reveals how connected we truly are—how much we rely on one another every day,” Lt. Governor Gilchrist II said.
The free masks include 1.5 million from FEMA that the state has already sent to organizations that include local Community Action Agencies serving low-income residents, MDHHS offices, Area Agencies on Aging, homeless shelters and Native American tribes.
Another 1 million face coverings from FEMA and 1.5 million from Ford will go to low-income schools, the City of Detroit, Federally Qualified Health Centers, some COVID-19 testing sites and to many of the organizations listed above to reach vulnerable populations – including minority residents who have been affected by the public health crisis as a result of racism.
“Masks are proven to reduce a person’s chance of spreading COVID-19 by about 70 percent. There’s also growing evidence that masks can protect the wearer’s life, by reducing the severity of COVID if they get it,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said. “
Ford’s involvement makes MI Mask Aid a public-private partnership that can provide even more free masks. Ford assembles more vehicles and employs more hourly workers in the U.S. than any other automaker.
“Manufacturing is the backbone of America and from World War II to fighting COVID-19, Ford has a rich history of stepping up in times of crisis to help Michigan and our country,” said Ford Motor Company president and CEO Jim Hackett.
Anyone interested in receiving a free mask can find a distribution location by calling the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 or looking up their local Community Action Agency online.
Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.