Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In Faribault: free N95 masks January 28, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:49 PM
Tags: , , , , ,
The free 3M N95 masks I got from Hy-Vee. When I got home and opened the two grocery bags, I found four masks in one rather than three. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

DEAR GOOD PEOPLE of Faribault and surrounding area, free N95 face masks from the national stockpile are now available locally.

Thursday evening Randy and I popped into Faribault’s Hy-Vee for our N95 masks, which offer the best masking protection from COVID-19. When properly fit, they filter out 95 percent of particles, according to info I’ve read. That means you’re protecting yourself and those around you (should you unknowingly have COVID). Of course, vaccines with boosters are the top way to protect ourselves and each other.

When I asked for my masks (with Randy standing next to me), the pharmacy clerk said, “It’s only three per household.” Wrong. I corrected her as did her supervisor. It’s three per person. I also suggested that perhaps Hy-Vee grocery store employees could wear N95 face masks. Set an example. Protect themselves and their customers. After all, the business is giving away masks…so why aren’t employees masking? I like their smiling faces, but I’d prefer they wore masks during this pandemic. It’s the right thing to do.

I appreciate the federal government’s efforts to get 400 million N95 masks to the public. Finding those masks anywhere has proven difficult. And I could have used about 150 of them last weekend to give away.

Right now I don’t see any other places locally for the general public to get the free N95 masks. Walgreens does not list any Minnesota locations for free distribution. But this can change. So, if you can’t get to Faribault Hy-Vee or they’re out, places like Walmart, CVS, etc. may have the masks soon.

TELL ME: If you have tips on where to find free N95 masks, please share, whether you live in Faribault or beyond.

If you’re anti-mask or anti-vax, don’t bother to comment. I moderate comments and won’t publish such views on this my personal blog.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “In Faribault: free N95 masks”

  1. I was surprised to find out that one of the managing staff where my father lives in a memory care unit just got over COVID. I said to her “its a good thing you were vaccinated!” and she said, no, she never got the shot. I thought facilities like that require it. I guess not.

    • It is my understanding that healthcare/long term care facilities which receive Medicare/Medicaid funding have federal vaccine mandates for staff. Those just went into affect this week. However, religious exemptions can be granted. I can’t speak specifically to your father’s memory care unit, but I would think it might receive federal funding for patient care. I’m sorry. As a daughter, I would not feel good about a managing staff member being unvaccinated. I don’t understand that stance when your job is caring for others, especially the vulnerable elderly. Every single person in that facility should do everything in their power to protect residents.

      • The whole anti-vax thing just blows my mind

      • Mine, too. People are needlessly dying and suffering. I personally know of two sisters who were advised not to get vaccinated. They both got COVID, then died as a result. Vaccination has become so politicalized, so “no one can tell me what to do…” Somewhere, somehow, care for others has been lost in all of this. I’m as frustrated as you and I’m sorry about the situation in which your father finds himself.

      • My daughter still isn’t vaccinated but I blame social media and the clinic she went to! First of all, she keeps hearing now that people who are vaccinated still get COVID so she says she would get it anyhow and then when she went to the clinic the doctor there told her not to get it until seeing a cardiologist because she had an issue after having an allergic reaction. That is all fine but what 23 year old is going to rush to a cardiologist on their own. Its such a mix up and then to top it off her boyfriend had COVID twice and she never got it, or never showed symptoms so that only gives her more reason to avoid the shot. She lives so far from me that i don’t really know what to do about it.

      • I am deeply sorry for this difficult situation you find yourself in with your daughter. I read the concern, the worry, the pain in your comment. And the love. You love your daughter deeply and want her to remain healthy. What to do? There’s no easy answer. Our adult children make their own decisions, even if sometimes those choices are not in their best interests. Keep loving her, encouraging her to get vaccinated, being there for her (even from a distance) and, if you’re a woman of faith, praying for her. Unfortunately, most families are facing the same challenge. That doesn’t help you, other than to perhaps help you feel less alone. Know that I care. My heart hurts for you. Thank you for reaching out here in the comments section.

      • I so appreciate your insight. It does feel better to “talk” to someone about it. I pray she gets it soon!

      • You are welcome. I am always here to listen and firmly believe that we need to lean on others in this blogging community. I just popped over to your website. You have endured much in losing your husband and your son. I am deeply sorry. Many hugs to you.

      • Thank you Audrey. Come by anytime!

      • I will. Thank you for welcoming me. 🙂

  2. Marilyn (Stassen) Kerwin Hacker Says:

    Thank you for the reminder! My husband is on his way to our Hy-Vee in Marshall. It is not convenient for me to go out, and they are very accommodating, allowing my husband to use the honor system to get mine. One of the many benefits of living in a “smaller” town.

    • I’m happy to hear that your husband is picking up your N95 masks in Marshall. I can only hope others in your region follow your example and start wearing masks. Thank you for protecting yourselves and your broader community. I’m thankful.

  3. beth Says:

    I picked up 3 at a large chain, Meijer’s, in Michigan. they said they ran out of 5,000 masks in hours

  4. Sandra Says:

    This is the Walgreen’s national list my store is referring to, suggesting to check back as only one MN city is listed. My CVS doesn’t either. I think it’s going to be into next week. Our HyVee went through 7000 this week. I’m on all the email lists, guess there was a tv ad, but since I watch little tv lately. I bought KN95s, so maybe I should wait, let the unmasked get something free and actually wear them! So frustrating, our schools are in an uproar. Now in the old German days, would be no question the right thing to do or question it would get done. https://www.walgreens.com/images/adaptive/pdf/covid/mask_stores.pdf

    • Thanks for that link to Walgreens. When I checked earlier, I didn’t see any Minnesota Walgreens listed. I’m glad to hear you are on email lists and that the demand is there. But…I don’t expect the unmasked will want N95s, even if those masks are free. So…go ahead and get what you need. And, yes, we all need to “do the right thing” without question. I share your frustration.

  5. oconeemama Says:

    I ordered mine from Grainger (grainger.com), when I saw how unsafe the cloth masks were. The problem, for me, is they are so tight! I feel for healthcare workers. Instead of looping around the ears, the 2 elastic loops go over your hair and around your neck.

    • Thank you for that source tip.

      I agree that the N95 masks are uncomfortable given their two loops and tightness, one of the reasons they are more effective. Last weekend I wore an N95 for 3.5 hours at my mom’s visitation and funeral (not something Mom would have wanted in a pandemic). That took place in a crowded southwestern Minnesota small town church among about 130 unmasked (and also some known-to-be unvaccinated) family and friends. I was doing everything in my power (including refusing to stand in a receiving line shaking hands and hugging) to keep myself and others safe. It was beyond stressful and difficult in my grief, but, oh, so necessary to wear that N95 and take other precautions.

      When I finally removed that mask after leaving the church, I, too, thought of the healthcare workers. I also considered how frustrated and exhausted they must feel as this pandemic goes on and on and people still refuse to get vaccinated, wear masks and take other precautions. I am beyond trying to understand why people do not care, especially at a funeral.

  6. Valerie Says:

    I hear they are giving out the masks at the Northfield Library. We ordered ours online before we knew they would be so close.

    • Thanks for your tip, which I just confirmed via the Northfield Library’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/northfieldpubliclibrary/

      The City of Northfield is providing the free N95 masks (5 per person) at the library. Local businesses are also invited to pick up masks for their employees and customers. I am grateful the community of Northfield recognizes the importance of those N95 masks. I encourage you, dear readers, to read the FB post, which also encourages vaccination. Thank you, City of Northfield!

      Here’s a quote from the Facebook page:

      “The importance of masking at this time is very apparent and important to many in our community,” said Mark Elliott, Northfield chief of police. Wearing a high-quality mask like the KN95 helps to limit the spread of COVID-19, including variants like Omicron.

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