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How county health departments are distributing masks in the Rochester region

Free masks.jpg
A box of medical masks being handed out at a distribution site in Monroe County. (WHAM photo)

(WHAM) - Over the last week, public health departments have begun distributing face coverings and medical masks to people living in their counties to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus when they are out in public.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last month, directing New Yorkers to wear a mask in public when they are unable to maintain the appropriate social distance of six feet or more. Many retailers have made it mandatory to wear face coverings or masks while in their stores.

Several people living outside of Monroe County have reached out to 13WHAM News, inquiring about mask distribution in the counties where they are living. The number of masks and method of distribution varies from county to country. Part of the reason that millions of masks were not handed out in some counties, public health officials said, is that the number of masks is dependent on the amount of federal funding awarded through the CARES ACT and the number of cases in a given region.


Genesee County:

At this time, the Genesee County Health Department is not distributing masks to residents.

Livingston County:

Livingston County Public Health Director Jennifer Rodriguez said the county received a shipment of approximately 11,000 cloth masks on Tuesday, May 12.

County leaders are "exploring options to ensure an expedient and efficient distribution to the public," Rodriguez said.

After decisions have been made and plans are finalized, the county will explain that plan in a press release. No timeline was given for putting the plan into place.


Monroe County:

Monroe County officials scheduled mask distribution at 23 different drive-thru locations on Saturday, May 9 and Wednesday, May 13 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The county said it anticipates 3 million masks to be handed out between the two events.

People living in the City of Rochester will receive a shipment of face masks to their homes starting this week. Approximately 480,000 masks are being mailed out to 96,000 households in the city.


Ontario County:

Ontario County Public Health officials said it was allotted 39,000 masks by the New York State Homeland Security Department during the initial outbreak of novel coronavirus in mid-March. The masks were given the county with strict guidelines on distribution for essential businesses such as grocery stores, RTS, convenience stores, gas stations, post offices, food banks and county agencies like the Department of Social Services.

Ontario County Public Health officials were recently sent 20,000 additional masks with the same instructions as the first shipment of masks.

"Based on population, Ontario County does not qualify for the type of Federal Disaster Relief Funds that Monroe County recently used to purchase and distribute masks to its residents," County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Marren said in an emailed statement.

No grant funding was awarded to distribute face coverings to the general public.

Anyone who needs a face covering and is unable to find a location near them should contact the Ontario County Emergency Management Office during normal business hours at (585) 396-4310.


Orleans County:

A spokesperson for the Orleans County Emergency Management Department said the county has distributed 30,200 gloves, 19,775 surgical masks, 1,985 N95 masks, 349 gowns, 911 face shields, 15,000 cloth facemasks, 1,828 gallon containers of hand sanitizer, and 20,000 2 oz. bottles of hand sanitizer as directed by the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Emergency Management.

Cloth face masks have been distributed to government agencies and first responders, as well as 29 different gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies, as well as RTS, Community Action, Path Stone and the food pantries. The Office of the Aging has received 5,300 masks, the Department of Mental Health received 2,000 masks, Cornell Cooperative Extension received 4,000 masks and 384 gallons of hand sanitizer - all to give to the people they serve.

Questions about masks can be directed to the Orleans County Office of Emergency Management.

Seneca County:

Volunteers from the United Way of Seneca County and the general public are helping to make masks for people living in Seneca County, including a volunteer network of nearly 100 sewers.

More than 3,100 cloth masks and nearly 4,000 paper masks have been distributed for free to Seneca County residents and businesses over the last five weeks.

A core group of 12 sewers are working to produce masks to keep up with the increasing demand, according to Kerry VanAuken, Senior Public Health Educator for Seneca Couny.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to make masks or donations can contact the United Way of Seneca County at uwseneca@uwseneca.org. ANyone in need of a mask can email the same United Way email address or call the Seneca County Health Department at (315) 539-1920.

All essential businesses and Seneca County departments have received masks from the Seneca County Office of Emergency Management.

“The Office of Emergency Management has distributed 12,500 cloth masks to essential businesses over the past two weeks and has just received another shipment of 6,000 cloth masks that will be distributed in the coming days," Seneca County Emergency Management Director Melissa Taylor said. "Local municipalities are assisting our office with this distribution.”

The Seneca County Office for the Aging is distributing mask for senior citizens. Anyone who wants a mask can call the Waterloo Office of the Aging at (315) 539-1765.


Steuben County:

The New York State Office of Emergency Management delivered 34,500 masks to Steuben County within the last two weeks.

County officials said they made it a priority to distribute masks to as many members of the vulnerable populations as possible - including homeless people, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. Human service agencies, along with senior housing complexes, pharmacies, grocery stores, and some other retail stores were also given masks for employees to wear.

Some cities, towns, and villages that were willing to hand out masks directly to residents were given masks, as well.

Any questions can be directed to the Steuben County Office for the Aging at (607) 664-2298 or via email at OFAInfo@SteubenCountyNY.gov.


Wayne County:

Various agencies throughout Wayne County have been given some masks to be distributed to residents living in towns and villages, according to Ryan Mulhern, Wayne County Public Health Educator.

"Each agency is responsible for communicating their distribution plans," Mulhern said.

Some of the masks distributed by the county were also given to Newark Wayne Community Hospital to be handed out to people living in Wayne County, as well. Some of those masks have been distributed to our local hospital to give to residents as well.

From May 30 to June 6, all 15 towns and villages in Wayne County will be handing out masks to people on a first come, first served basis. The dates and locations are:

  • Arcadia (Newark) - May 30 from 9am-12pm at Newark Town Office
  • Butler - June 6 from 9am-12pm at Butler Town Hall
  • Clyde (Galen) - May 28 from 5:30-7:30pm at Clyde Town Highway Barn
  • Huron - June 6 from 8am-4pm at Huron Town Highway Barn
  • Lyons - May 30 from 12-2pm at Lyons Community Center
  • Macedon - May 30 from 10am until gone at West Wayne Plaza off of Rt. 31
  • Marion - May 30 from 10am-12pm at Marion Town Park
  • Ontario - May 30 from 10am until gone at Casey Park
  • Palmyra - May 30 from 9-11am at Palmyra Town Highway Barn
  • Rose - June 6 from 9am-12pm at Rose Town Highway Barn
  • Savannah - Call the Town Hall at (315) 365-2811
  • Sodus - May 30 from 9am-12pm at Sodus School soccer parking lot
  • Walworth - May 30 from 10am until gone at Walworth Town Hall
  • Williamson - May 27 from 4-6pm at Williamson Town Hall
  • Wolcott - June 6 from 9am-12pm at Wolcott Town Highway Barn


Wyoming County:

Face coverings are being distributed to people living in Wyoming County in a variety of ways, according to Public Health Administrator Laura Paolucci.

Towns and villages were given a supply to hand out to their residents, along with town and village departments to give to clients and families they serve.

All school districts in Wyoming County made masks or face coverings available to families that participate in their meal distribution programs.

Anyone who needs one can call the Wyoming County Response Line at (585) 786-8911.


Yates County:

In Yates County, masks that were received by the county for use by businesses are being provided to the Yates County Industrial Development Agency for distribution.

Masks designated to be handed out to the general public can be found at The Living Well, a community outreach program in Penn Yan.

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