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N95 Masks Expected To Start Hitting Store Shelves By End Of January

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pretty soon, N95 masks will be popping up in stores all over town.

It's all part of President Joe Biden's plan to give out 400 million free masks to Americans as the nation is facing a record surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Omicron variant. The masks are being supplied from the country's strategic stockpile.

In Bethel Park, Spartan Pharmacy is one of the sites that will soon be getting free N95 masks from the federal government.

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"We get multiple calls every day asking for N95 masks," Spartan Pharmacy Manager Matt Triebsch said.

That's why Triebsch said getting a new stockpile of N95 masks couldn't come soon enough.

"We had some in stock about two-three weeks ago and now that those have run out, they're just on back order," he said.

Triebsch said he expects to see the masks come in by the end of the month.

"They come directly from Amerisource, our distribution center," Triebsch said. "They are coming directly from our warehouse to the public."

However, he said they're considered government property until they're handed out. So, how can customers get them when they come in?

"They would come to our registers ... and indicate they're looking for masks and give up to three a person," Triebsch said.

The White House said everyone will be limited to three masks each.

In addition to the smaller pharmacies, big-name chains like Walmart and CVS also will be providing the free face coverings. A Walmart spokesperson said the masks will be available over the next few weeks at the front of select stores and in select wholesale clubs for people to pick up. CVS said it also expects to see masks arriving at some of its locations in the coming weeks, but didn't say how it will go about distributing them yet.

Meantime, Walgreens also will be distributing N95 masks in varying sizes at several locations, but it's not clear which ones just yet. A spokesperson said the pharmacy chain expects the first stores to begin offering them Friday, and will continue to do so on a rolling basis after that. Walgreens also said it will have signs up to let people know if masks are available at a specific location.

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