Project N95, Harvard FXB Center Launch Masks for Communities to Distribute 1m Units of Respiratory Protection

BROOKLYN, NY, USA, May 9, 2022

National not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) group Project N95, has partnered with the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University to distribute 1 million respirators in local communities at no cost. Working with 23 community groups in 10 states (see list below), the partners have already distributed over 500,000 respirators with the support of a generous donation of 500,000 N95s to Project N95 by medical devices manufacturer Advanced Concept Innovations (ACI) of Lakeland Florida.

Covid cases have been increasing again in the US in recent weeks. Public health officials are seeing surging cases prompted by the Omicron BA.2 variant, which has hit Europe and Asia. The BA.2 variant is more contagious than all previous Covid variants, with some epidemiologists suggesting it could be on par with Measles in terms of ease of spreading. The rise in cases is coming at a time when Federal funding for vaccines, testing and respiratory protection is being reduced and when every state has removed indoor mask mandates.

“The pandemic is sadly not over and as mask-mandates are removed and federal funding for COVID-19 response and mitigation measures decrease, risk for infection among the most vulnerable, including poor people, increases significantly,” said FXB Executive Director Dr. Natalia Linos.

“A key health equity strategy is to remove financial barriers to accessing proven preventive measures that reduce community transmission. We’re pleased to partner with Project N95 and community organizations to make high-quality masks available for free. This can help ensure everyone has the opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones, not just those with the means to do so,” Dr. Linos added.

“Without high-quality respiratory protection, the potential for BA.2 to spread rapidly is high. Because so many people are still not vaccinated, and so few have received boosters, we could see rapidly increasing hospitalizations and deaths from BA.2. We want people to be protected, regardless of their ability to pay for high-quality respiratory protection. Project N95 believes strongly that literally everyone deserves quality respiratory protection during the pandemic. Quality products need to be accessible, affordable and authentic, and many distribution sites for the Biden Administration’s National N95 distribution program no longer have N95s available,” said Project N95 Executive Director Anne Miller.

Many low-income and high-risk Americans would not have access to affordable, high-quality respiratory protection without the help of local organizations and programs including this one.

"Fair Count has been a proud partner of organizations and community leaders in expanding access to COVID-related information, vaccines, and masks in Black, LatinX, and Native American communities across Georgia. With the continued support of partners like the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights and Project N95, we look forward to continuing to make virus mitigation a component of our outreach efforts in historically underserved communities," said Rebecca DeHart, Fair Count CEO, Georgia.

The funding for the masks comes from generous manufacturers, individuals and companies. US mask manufacturers have already committed to donate masks to at-need Americans through Project N95’s Masks for Communities Program.

In addition to the generous in-kind donations from American mask makers, the groups are seeking funds to support the program and help the community groups. To learn more about the campaign, or to make a donation, please see https://www.projectn95.org/masks-for-communities-coalition.

To learn more about how Masks for Communities has impacted rural Mississippi, please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3bjHPsiXeg

Partner groups to date:

Fair Count and GA DPH CHW Initiative, Atlanta Georgia Workers Defense Project, Houston, Dallas and Austin, TX Step Up Louisiana, New Orleans LA, New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, New Orleans, LA St. Landry Parish School Board, Opelousas, LA United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Eastern Region, Virginia Beach, VA Virginia Community Health Workers Association, Richmond, VA Missouri Jobs with Justice, St Louis, MO American Academy of Family Physicians, Kansas City, MO The Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, Inc (AMEXCAN), Greenville, NC Rebuilding Broken Places CDC, Goldsboro, NC YMCA of the Triangle, Raleigh, NC Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL Food Bank of North Alabama, Huntsville, AL Tulsa Day Center, Tulsa, OK Senior Resources, Columbia, SC Lowcountry Food Bank, Charleston, SC Harvest Hope, Columbia, SC Mississippi Association of Educators, Jackson, MS Heartland Hands (Mississippi Food Pantry), Horn Lake, MS

A special shout out to National Jobs with Justice, in Washington, DC for connecting us with many of these distribution partners.

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.

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