Tri-Cities emergency management offices receive free masks to distribute to low-income Washingtonians


TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Benton and Franklin County Emergency Management have received thousands of cloth, reusable masks to distribute to low-income Washingtonians.

State officials launched a program earlier this month, distributing 3.6 million face coverings to counties around the state. The intention is for local officials to distribute two masks to every Washingtonian below 200% of the federal poverty level – about $52,400 for a family of four.

Locally, the donation will help fill a continued need.

“We’ve had a number of residents, businesses and workers asking for masks,” said Sean Davis, director of Franklin County Emergency Management.

Thanks to donations from the community, they have already been able to hand out thousands of masks. The state donation provided Benton and Franklin counties a combined total of 178,000 masks, which they received last week.

Local emergency management officials handed out some the masks already to organizations for them to distribute. Organizations they partnered with include the Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, Benton-Franklin Head Start, Impact Compassion, St. Vincent De Paul, Boys & Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties, Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels, Community Action Connections, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Second Harvest and the Pasco School District.

They plan to distribute the rest of the masks to individuals at a drive-thru pickup next week.

“This process allows us to reach some of the folks that we were unable to reach through the other groups that we have given the donated masks to,” said Davis.

The drive-thru pickup will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Franklin County Emergency Management on Wednesday, July 1.

Along with Benton and Franklin counties’ masks, Walla Walla County received 18,000, Yakima County received 219,350 and Kittitas County received 27,950.

On Friday, Governor Inslee’s statewide order requiring use of face coverings in public spaces went into effect.