By: RYAN CALLIHAN | May 11, 2020
This article has Unlimited Access, thanks to the support of the Manatee Community Foundation’s Bradenton COVID-19 Response Fund, which was funded with a gift from MCF’s Knight Donor Advised Fund, and the McClatchy Journalism Institute. For more coverage, sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our commitment to public service journalism: Donate Now.
Manatee County government is partnering with local groups to provide free face masks in some of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.
Residents are encouraged to visit any one of MCR Health’s locations between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday to collect a free mask. According to a release, “several thousand” KN-95 face masks are available. The masks have been approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
There are 20 different pickup locations across the county. Residents will be limited to one mask per person and each recipient must be present.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended wearing a face mask or similar face covering when visiting public spaces like grocery stores or pharmacies to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Many people in my district not only have a great need for protection against the coronavirus, but many others are wanting to step up and offer a hand to their neighbor,” said Commissioner Reggie Bellamy in a prepared statement. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to forge a partnership with Figgers Wireless and MCR Health to get needed resources into the homes of our residents in most need. These face masks will help protect thousands of people from the spread of germs.”
Commissioner Misty Servia has also given away hundreds of masks to South County residents. On Monday, she hosted a giveaway location at Manatee’s Transit Fleet Facility to provide more masks and hand sanitizer refills.
There’s been a great response to the face mask giveaways we’ve done in the past, so I know the need is out there,” Servia said in a statement. “The whole community response has been phenomenal and I’m so happy to be able to bring some help to the residents of the Tallevast area.”
Masks are also available for pickup at noon and 2 p.m. on weekdays at these locations:
- Palmetto Youth Center, 501 17th St. W., Palmetto
- Rubonia Community Center, 1309 72nd St. E., Palmetto
- 13th Avenue Dream Center, 922 24th St. E., Bradenton
Each free mask is disposable but can be re-used if it hasn’t been soiled, according to a release. Officials suggest using clean hands when putting on or taking off the mask. If the mask is still clean, fold it in half so that the outside surfaces touch each other and place it in a bag.
Any adult dealing with symptoms of the novel coronavirus may visit the Florida National Guard’s regional testing center at 140 University Town Center Drive to receive a free test at the drive-thru site.