Boys and Girls Club of Dane County quickly begins distribution of 225K N95 masks

MADISON, Wis. – Volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County began distributing 225,000 N95 and KN95 masks to those who need them Wednesday afternoon.

Club officials looking to help out Madison teachers and students were able to secure 200,000 N95 masks from the state Tuesday after getting the attention of Gov. Tony Evers.

RELATED: Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County secures 200k N95 masks

The group was able to buy the remaining KN95 masks for kids from a local vendor with funds they initially raised for the masks now provided by Evers.

Laura Ford-Harris, the group’s chief development officer, said their drive-through mask distribution is an extension of the work they’ve been doing to address the effects of the pandemic since March 2019.

“Your Boys and Girls Clubs are not just clubs for youth, we’re actually community centers, so this is a part of our community work, getting involved and addressing the needs of those in our community,” Ford-Harris said.

According to health officials, as local hospitals are close to full and patient counts increase — up 17% in south-central Wisconsin since Christmas — now is the time to upgrade for better protection.

RELATED: Your cloth mask is no longer cutting it: What Madison doctors say you should be using instead

“More people have it,” said UW Health’s interim medical director for infection prevention Dr. Dan Shirley.  “So, just because there’s the chance some person you encounter now has the infection is very high in the community, so there’s just more emphasis on having masks right now.”

Shirley also said while Omicron cases have started to decline in places like New York City and Boston, that trend has not reached Wisconsin.

He did, however, say there’s reason to be hopeful as long as people continue and build on best practices, like social distancing, masking, and getting vaccinated.

Shirley also said changing recommendations on masks–shifting from the cloth to N95–is evidence of the scientific process working in real-time.

Ford-Harris said in recognizing the community’s need for better protection, after securing the large shipment of masks, they chose to donate to more than just students and teachers.

“Who doesn’t need to be protected in this environment?” she said. “You know we can protect the students but then they go home and they interact, or you go to the grocery store or you go to get gas.”

Each person was given 10 N95 masks and hand sanitizer and those with kids were also given KN95 masks.

The club will continue to give out masks every Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. at their location on Jenewein Rd while supplies last.