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Vulnerable Michigan communities to get 4 million free face masks

Statewide coronavirus cases top 90K

DETROIT – In a briefing Friday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a new partnership aimed at providing millions of face masks, while leaving the decision to reopen schools to individual districts.

Whitmer announced the partnership with FEMA and Ford Motor Company as part of the Michigan Mask Aid program. The program will help provide 4.4 million masks to Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. According to Whitmer, roughly 1 million masks would be provided from FEMA and 1.5 million from Ford.

“More often than not, it’s people of color who don’t have the financial luxury of working from home, who take public transportation to get groceries, who may not have access to healthcare in a consistent way and whose neighbors may be environmentally jeopardized due to other factors,” Michigan Lt. Garlin Gilchrist said from the podium Friday.

The announcement of the program came as a top health official with Metro Health in Grand Rapids predicted masks would likely need to be worn until next April during a call with Kent County Friday.

But as focus shifted to reopening schools, Whitmer only spoke briefly.

“These are decisions that are going to be made at the local level,” Whitmer said.

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