Free KN95 and surgical masks available to community members at SJBPH offices

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By Chandler Griffin | San Juan Basin Public Health

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is pleased to announce that free KN95 and surgical masks are available at SJBPH offices in Pagosa Springs and Durango. 

SJBPH received a new shipment of KN95 and surgical masks late last week from the state of Colorado’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. 

Since receiving its initial shipment, SJBPH has distributed more than 25,000 masks to community members and local organizations across Archuleta and La Plata counties.

Masks are currently available at SJBPH front desks on a first-come, first-served basis until they run out. Five masks will be provided per person. The public is required to wear a mask to enter SJBPH offices and lobbies at this time. 

SJBPH’s Pagosa Springs office is located at 502 S. 8th St. in Pagosa Springs and is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. 

The SJBPH Durango office is located at 281 Sawyer Drive, Suite 300, in Durango and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Masks of high quality and fit are essential for reducing transmission of COVID-19. Face coverings continue to be strongly recommended for all individuals ages 2 and up in public indoor settings, businesses and workplaces. 

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person exhales virus-containing droplets and small particles. Other people can breathe in these droplets and particles. It’s critical to have a well-fitting mask to protect yourself and others. A mask should fit firmly over the nose, mouth and chin without gaps to be most effective. It should fit in a way that restricts airflow around the mask (e.g., under the eyes or along the side of the mask) while still allowing you to breathe easily through the mask. Guidelines on how to correctly wear and care for your mask are available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Wash reusable cloth masks as soon as they get dirty or at least once a day. After handling or touching a used mask, always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. You should throw away and replace your mask if it gets dirty, wet or damaged; if it becomes hard to breathe through the mask; or if it no longer forms a tight seal against your face. If masks are clean, they can be stored for reuse later in a dry, breathable bag (like a paper or mesh fabric bag) to keep it clean between uses.

“We are proud to have distributed more than 25,000 high quality masks to community members over the past two weeks. We’re grateful for everyone who has stopped by our front desks and continue to mask in public indoor spaces. While our case rates are significantly decreasing, we continue to have high transmission and hospitalization rates in our region fueled by the Omicron variant of COVID-19. We hope you will stop by for masks for yourself or friends and family to wear in high-risk settings,” said Liane Jollon, SJBPH executive director .

Both La Plata and Archuleta counties continue to report high levels of COVID-19 transmission that are impacting the operation of businesses, schools and health care in the region. 

As of Feb. 10, the seven-day case incidence rate in La Plata County was reported at 437 cases per 100,000 residents, and in Archuleta County the rate was 165 cases per 100,000 residents. Of the molecular tests collected and reported to SJBPH over the past seven days, 12 percent came back positive for COVID-19 in La Plata County and 10 percent were reported as positive in Archuleta County.

In addition to wearing a mask, receiving a booster dose of vaccine is shown to drastically increase protection from severe illness and clinics with ample supply of all three vaccine types are widely available in both La Plata and Archuleta counties. All SJBPH and Jogan Health clinics can offer first, second and booster doses for those who are eligible. The full schedule of vaccine clinics and providers is available online with convenient dates and times across both counties. Visit: https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/. 

Community testing sites remain open and are free to the general public. More information about hours and how to make an appointment are available on the SJBPH website: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.

For COVID-19 data, vaccine clinics and information about quarantine and isolation guidance please, visit the SJBPH website: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.