Southeastern Grocers (SEG) plans to distribute more than 2 million free N95 masks to customers.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based SEG said the masks began arriving on Friday, Jan. 28, at its Winn-Dixie, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más supermarket pharmacy locations. The chains are providing the masks via SEG’s participation in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, through which retail pharmacy operators have received shipments of COVID-19 vaccines.
SEG said the N95 masks will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to three masks per person, depending on supply.
“We are continuing to work closely with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to distribute the N95 masks in our in-store pharmacies as soon as we receive them. Many of our Winn-Dixie, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más in-store pharmacy locations began receiving and distributing the N95 masks today,” Meredith Hurley, director of public relations and community for Southeastern Grocers, said in a statement. “While store delivery days and times will vary, all of our in-store pharmacy locations are projected to have the N95 masks available by Monday, Jan. 31, while supplies last.”
A video provided by SEG showed store manager Patrick Fernandez bringing in a shipment of N95 masks to the Winn-Dixie in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. At the store, the masks are placed in bins at the pharmacy department, with signs indicating a limit of three per person.
“We are proud to partner with the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and do our part to distribute these masks to our customers to help safeguard their health and well-being,” Fernandez said in the video.
SEG added that its pharmacy stores also offer online appointments and walk-ups (as available) for all Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations. Overall, the retailers operates more than 400 supermarkets under the Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Fresco y Más banners in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi.
Last week, the Biden administration unveiled plans to distribute 400 million free N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile to adults through tens of thousands of pharmacies, community health centers and other locations that take part in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. The N95 respirators are considered the highest-quality masks available to consumers for COVID-19 protection — including the fast-spreading Omicron variant — and filter at least 95% of particles in the air, as long as there’s a proper fit and the masks are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).