Benton County distributes free KN-90 masks as cases rise

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. — It only took a few weeks for Governor Jay Inslee to start distributing additional COVID resources to Washington state. Today, Benton County handed out the first batch of KN-90 masks to local community members.

“The reception has been overwhelming,” said Deanna Davis, Emergency Manager with Benton County Emergency Services (BCES).

BCES received more than 35,000 masks to distribute this week. They then worked with each city to distribute the masks in a public setting.

“The larger the city, the more masks they were provided to give out,” Davis said.

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But masks ran out quickly. Both West Richland and Richland ran out of masks before noon on Monday.

“We will be requesting additional supply of masks from the state and we hope to have those in by next week,” Davis said.

Recently, Governor Jay Inslee released a plan to distribute 10 million masks to local communities and K-12 schools. The masks were part of a group of other resources to help battle rising omicron cases across the state.

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“[The] use of a KN-90 or N-95 mask does provide a much closer facial fit, which then provides more efficient filtration,” said Davis. “That was what the Governor’s purpose was to get these more protective masks out in the public, especially in light of the rising cases of the omicron variant within our state.”

Benton-Franklin Health District has broken COVID case records several times over the last few weeks, with an estimated 1 in 35 Tri-Citians having an active COVID case.

“These masks are available for your protection, and if you choose to wear them, please do so as instructed,” Davis said. “We appreciate [your] participation.”