Masks for Communities
Today, the people at the highest risk of being impacted by COVID because of mask mandate removals are also least to afford high-quality high-filtration masks for themselves and their families. Masks for Communities is a partnership between the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights and Project N95 to distribute high-filtration masks for free to help limit the spread of COVID.
Why high-filtration masks?
As large numbers of Americans remove their masks, public spaces become less protected against COVID With the benefits of universal masking no longer available, vulnerable people and others need options to keep themselves safe. In addition to COVID vaccines, high-quality respiratory protection the defense against serious illness.
This is especially critical for those who are unvaccinated—including children under five—immunocompromised, or at high risk of complications from COVID. Thanks to the work of manufacturers, organizations like Project N95, and our partners and donors, that protection is available to the general public in the form of N95 respirators and other high-filtration face masks, such as KF94 and KN95 masks.
Why free masks?
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 because of high exposure risk—the poorest Americans are most likely to be working in person and in crowded conditions or living in multigenerational households—and because of bad outcomes after infection—the poorest Americans are also more likely to have multiple comorbidities due to structural factors.
Why is this important for equity?
The people with the highest risk factors for COVID-19—in terms of both exposure and outcomes—are also the poorest Americans, meaning they have the least access to high-quality high-filtration face masks. This problem has real-life consequences: A recent study from New York City(footnote?) showed that racial inequities in COVID increased during the Omicron surge. The people at the greatest risk are also the people most in need of help.
Free, easily accessible high-filtration masks are critical to ensuring that COVID-related health inequities do not widen.
We are raising funds to distribute an additional 1,000,000 high filtration masks.
You can help by contributing to the coalition today. Please donate, amplify our message, and share with colleagues.