City to Distribute 100,000 Commercial Masks to Residents; Launches 10,000 Mask Drive for Homemade Cloth Masks

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Distribution will prioritize seniors and other vulnerable populations.

SOMERVILLE, MA – Starting this week, the City of Somerville will be distributing 100,000 civilian three-ply masks with a focus on getting masks to people most vulnerable to COVID-19. Because these masks can only be reused a limited number of times, the City is also putting out a call for donated cloth masks that can also be distributed to residents.

Masks will be delivered to senior residences, public housing buildings, and City and School food distribution sites, first. This is the second round of mask distribution. Previously, the City delivered 4,000 civilian three-ply masks to senior buildings.

“While not a substitute for social distancing, wearing some type of mask or face covering can help slow the spread of COVID-19. We want to make sure that people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 like seniors, people living in densely populated buildings, and those who may not be able to get a face covering on their own have first access to these masks,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “And I want to thank the City staff and Somerville Auxiliary Fire Department/CERT Team who have worked tirelessly to secure these masks, package them, and distribute them for doing their part in protecting our community’s health.”

Along with targeted distribution, Somerville Police Officers will also be distributing masks at the following locations from 9 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. to hand out masks to any resident who needs one:

Outside of the East Police Substation, 81 Broadway (distribution will be moved inside the Substation if it’s raining)
At the intersection of Broadway and Temple St. (distribution will be moved to the Public Safety Building, 220 Washington St., if it’s raining)
Teele Square (distribution will be moved to inside the West Police Substation, 1116 Broadway, if it’s raining)

Officers will be handing out masks at these locations through at least Tuesday, May 12. Community Police Officers are also bringing masks along on their usual beats to provide to those who need them.

Call for 10,000 Home-made Masks

Civilian three-ply masks can be reused a limited number of times but cannot be washed, so in order to get washable masks with a longer lifespan to residents who need them most, the City is putting out a call for donated cloth masks with a goal of collecting at least 10,000.

The Somerville Library has offered up its book drops for the effort. To donate masks, just place them in a sealed bag and put them in the book drop-off slot at either the Central Library, 79 Highland Ave., or the East Branch Library, 115 Broadway. Porter Square Dry Cleaners has generously volunteered to launder the donated masks. Once the masks have been washed, they will be distributed with vulnerable populations getting first priority.

“I know there are many talented and thoughtful residents who have been using their skills to sew homemade cloth masks and at the same time we have residents in need of masks that can be washed and reused as this crisis continues,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Our hope is to collect at least 10,000 masks. Thanks to some early donations, we’re already on our way with 1,100.”

If you would like to make masks to donate, Cambridge Health Alliance has pattern recommendations on its website. As part of a companion effort, the Somerville Arts Council is also hiring local professional sewing machine operators and artists to make additional cloth masks for distribution to residents most in need. The goal is to both support local artists and workers, while helping to slow COVID-19.

For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit http://www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at http://www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.

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