Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Project N95 Distribute 70,000 High-Filtration Masks to MA Communities

BOSTON, MA, UNITED STATES, August 10, 2022

As part of its Masks for Communities Coalition, which is donating 1 million high-filtration masks across America to limit the spread of COVID among communities most in need, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and national nonprofit Project N95 are distributing 70,000 masks through community partners across the Greater Boston area this summer. This effort includes 34,000 high-quality masks that will be distributed by La Colaborativa beginning today during a community event for Chelsea residents. La Colaborativa has successfully supported the COVID response within the local Latinx community. An additional 36,000 masks are being distributed through partners Project RIGHT, Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, ROCA, and Neighborhood Food Action Collaborative.

To date, the Masks for Communities Coalition has distributed more than 700,000 high-filtration masks nationwide, including in Massachusetts. Masks distributed throughout Greater Boston during the summer included charitable manufacturer contributions from A&Z, ivWatch, Aegle, Bona Fide, and US Mask. Free and easily accessible high-filtration masks are critical to ensure that COVID-related health inequities do not widen with consideration of strain mutation. The highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant has become the dominant strain of COVID in the United States since early July, making up an estimated 85.5% of cases nationwide.

“We are grateful to receive such a generous donation of high-filtration masks on behalf of our hard-hit community members who are still very much reeling from the impacts of the pandemic,” Dinanyili Paulino, Chief Operating Officer. “At a time when families are making painful decisions between paying rent and buying food or medications, La Colaborativa is proud to help provide easy access to free essentials like masks that can help ease the burden.”

“As part of the Greater Boston community, we are pleased to join neighbors working collectively to protect those most vulnerable in our communities against the ongoing spread of COVID,” said FXB Acting Director Dr. Natalia Linos. “We thank our partners in the Mask for Communities Coalition, Project N95, and La Colaborativa for today’s distribution effort, reaching communities who are most impacted by inequities deepened by COVID and in need of access to free, high-filtration masks.”

Project N95 Executive Director Anne Miller said: “Masks for Communities Coalition is so pleased to work with La Colaborativa and other outstanding community groups to help bring respiratory protection to adults and children who might otherwise not have access to the highest quality protection. We are grateful for the support of U.S. manufacturers – A&Z, ivWatch, Aegle, Bona Fide, and US Mask – who contributed respirators to this initiative. It’s easy to think this pandemic is over, but it is not. Some 500 Americans a day are still dying from COVID; wearing a mask is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others.”

Communities and individuals at highest risk of being impacted by COVID due to mask mandate removals are also those with the least means to buy high-quality, high-filtration masks for themselves and their families. Social epidemiologists have long known that disease distribution is patterned by disadvantage, and COVID data have documented that the poorest Americans are more likely to become ill and die from COVID. This is both because of heightened exposure risk and a higher risk of poor outcomes once infected since the poorest Americans are also more likely to have multiple comorbidities due to structural factors.

In light of large numbers of Americans removing their masks, public spaces have become less safe overall, as the added layer of protection due to universal mask mandates is no longer available. With fewer people wearing masks in indoor settings, those who continue wearing masks to protect themselves, including those who are immunocompromised and others with heightened risk of complications from COVID, now need to use the highest quality/filtration available.

To learn more about the Masks for Communities Coalition and make a charitable contribution, please visit the Project N95 Masks for Communities Coalition page.

About the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University

The François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights (FXB Center) was founded and endowed by Albina du Boisrouvray in 1993. Her goal was to provide protection to children by furthering the vision for health and human rights of founding director Jonathan Mann, and it received the enthusiastic collaboration of then Dean Harvey Fineberg. We use interdisciplinary approaches to promote equity and dignity for those oppressed by racism, poverty, and stigma, nationally and around the world. We are proud to partner with a diverse group of scholars, educators, elected officials, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and members of the international policy community to advance health and human rights, and to show the harmful effects of violations on children. To learn more, please visit fxb.harvard.edu.

About Project N95

Project N95 is a national non-profit working to provide equitable access for all to affordable, authentic respiratory protection and health products through education, advocacy and distribution of vetted goods and services. As a leading rapid response nonprofit organization created in response to the pandemic, Project N95 has delivered more than 32 million units of personal protective equipment since May 2020, becoming the National Clearinghouse for critical PPE and other respiratory protection. Visit projectn95.org to learn more or to volunteer.

La Colaborativa

Founded in 1988, La Colaborativa is a steady, trusted, and fearless partner to Latinx immigrants in Greater Boston, with a focus on gateway cities and towns, such as Chelsea, East Boston, Everett, Lynn, Revere, and Malden. La Colaborativa works in partnership with Latinx immigrants to design and deliver an array of programs, initiatives, and community organizing campaigns that serve, protect, celebrate, and uplift our people. We focus on food and housing security, economic advancement, cultural celebration, and immigrant leadership that drives policy and systems changes that benefit our communities over the long-term. We are a trusted resource for Massachusetts’ immigrant community, disseminating linguistically and culturally appropriate information and resources

Media Contact Jana Lynne Sanchez press@projectn95.org 469-396-2048

Harvard’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Project N95 Distribute 70,000 High-Filtration Masks to MA Communities