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Atrium to donate 1 million KN95 masks in Charlotte as COVID cases surge

Atrium has already given 200,000 masks to the Mecklenburg County Health Department as COVID-19 cases rise due to the omicron variant.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atrium Health announced Thursday that it wants to donate 1 million KN95 face masks to the Charlotte community. 

It's part of the health care provider's "Million Mask" initiative that was started in 2020. Atrium has already given more than 200,000 KN95 masks to the Mecklenburg County Health Department. 

Atrium said they're also giving tens of thousands of masks to teachers at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, as well as community groups and Charlotte-area nonprofits. 

The announcement came the same day that President Joe Biden said the government will distribute N95 masks free of charge to Americans. Biden also announced that 1,000 military medical personnel will be deployed to hospitals in six states to relieve overwhelmed health care workers. More details on mask distribution are expected next week. 

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The federal government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks, the White House said this week. And though research has shown those masks to be better protection, they are often more uncomfortable, and health officials are not altering their guidance to recommend against less-protective cloth masks.

Any organization in need of a mask donation can contact communitybenefit@atriumhealth.org

The best mask “is the one that you will wear and the one you can keep on all day long, that you can tolerate in public indoor settings,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.

Biden encouraged Americans to wear masks when indoors to slow the spread of the virus, even as he acknowledged they're a “pain in the neck.”

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.

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