Lansing, MI–Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday that 4 million free face masks will be provided to Michigan residents in communities vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

The masks are being provided through a partnership between the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Ford Motor Company and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The masks are being provided to low income schools, federally qualified health centers, COVID-19 testing sites and other organizations helping to reach vulnerable populations.

“According to one estimate, if 95% of Americans wore masks between now and Dec. 1, it would save 66,000 American lives,” Whitmer said. “That’s 66,000 people who are parents, or grandparents, or children, siblings, friends who could be saved by the simple act of wearing a mask.”

The project is in partnership with the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, which is chaired by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

“By delivering four million masks at no cost to Michiganders, we can provide a proven, lifesaving device to countless residents as they go back to work, school, and define new way of living during this pandemic,” Gilchrist said.

MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said there is growing evidence that wearing a face mask can not only protect others around you, but protect the person wearing the mask as well.

“Even if the mask doesn’t block all droplets from getting to you, it can block some of them,” Gordon said. “That can be the difference between getting Covid asymptomatically and getting Covid and ending up in the ICU.”

Anybody interested in receiving a free mask can find a distribution location by calling the COVID-19 hotline at (888) 535-6136 or by looking up their local Community Action Agency at

Flint residents can visit the Genesee County Community Action Resource Department located at 601 N. Saginaw St., Suite 1B, to pick up face masks.

Michigan had 90,392 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Thursday, and 6,289 people have died from the virus.

Of the confirmed cases, 2,985 are in Genesee County, and 274 people in the county have died from the virus.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...