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Utah’s new free mask program sees high demand and wait times

File photo: Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — People have been rushing at the chance to receive their free mask from a new state initiative announced this week. 

On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox announced the  ‘Mask to Every Utahn’ program, aimed at giving away 2 million masks to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Within seconds of the announcement, the website to reserve a mask crashed. Since the start of the initiative, over 800,000 masks have been ordered.  

While the demand for a mask may be a sign of success, it’s left some people being told to wait weeks for a face covering. 

Ben Hart, Deputy Director of Economic Development at the Governor’s Office joined Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News on Wednesday to discuss the program and let people know when they should expect to see their mask. 

 

“We are not Amazon in the state of Utah,” Hart said jokingly. “We are doing everything we can to fulfill orders as quickly as possible.” 

Hart said within the first 24 hours of the website being up, 40,000 people ordered a mask. 

Two different kinds of masks are available through the state program. One style loops behind the ear and the other ties behind the head.

According to Hart, if you’re removing the mask often, the loop behind the ear is your best option. If you wear a mask for long periods of time, the mask with ties will be more comfortable.

These are reusable, cloth masks that people will be able to use for “months, years if they take care of them properly,” said Hart. 

The delivery may not show up in two business days, but Hart said the masks will go out for delivery as soon as possible. 

“We’re working with manufactures across the state of Utah, literally around the clock at this juncture, to get us as many masks as quickly as possible,” said Hart. 

As businesses begin to open back up, Hart said the main focus is ensuring the safety of high-risk populations. Ensuring safety includes wearing a mask in public spaces. 

“The more masks we get out, the greater chance we have at stopping transmission,” said Hart. 

And along with providing a potentially life-saving service, Hart said the free masks deliver an important message. “We started a conversation. We’re saying ‘end the stigma, it doesn’t matter what you look like. Wear a mask. It really will help save lives.'” 

The state is still taking orders for masks. But, they ask that if you already have a mask, please do not request one. Get your mask here.