Wednesday morning, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi joined the Department of Emergency Management and community partners to highlight the community-wide effort now underway to help ensure all Dane County residents have access to face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of Dane County departments have teamed together to establish a cloth mask procurement and distribution system. The Departments of Public Health, Emergency Management, Human Services, and the Dane County Library System are working to get masks out to community centers, churches, schools, food pantries, and other settings that can reach underserved communities and those who may be unable to afford masks.

“Dane County has worked with our community partners to set up the most extensive free mask distribution system in the region,” said County Executive Parisi. “We want to keep people safe, especially those already struggling to meet basic needs like food and shelter. This effort will improve local access to masks and help our community slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The Department of Emergency Management is in the process of handing out 100,000 masks to community partners, with about 65,745 of those masks already out in the community. Thus far, Dane County has spent $150,000 on masks to keep residents safe and has partnered with nearly 100 organizations to distribute them.

Dane County is also partnering with Dane County Mask Makers to facilitate small mask orders (10 or less) and individual cloth mask requests. The masks the organization provides are free and come from community donations. To learn more or volunteer, visit www.danecountymaskmakers.com.

Dane County’s face mask distribution effort comes as Public Health Madison & Dane County’s in-door face mask order took effect Monday, July 13. The order requires everyone age 5 and older to wear a face covering or mask when in any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, could be present.

An assortment of face coverings can be purchased in stores and online. Dane County Mask Makers and Public Health Madison & Dane County also have links to lists of local mask sellers on their websites. Those who can afford to purchase face masks are encouraged to do so to help ensure the continued availability of free face masks in the community.

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