The City of Sacramento’s mask-distribution program, launched this past Sunday, is nearing its conclusion. The City has been handing out “N95” particulate respirator masks in response to heavy wildfire smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County.
The masks have been available free of charge at City of Sacramento fire stations. City personnel also have been offering masks to people who are experiencing homelessness. To date, approximately 67,000 masks have been handed out to people who have asked for them.
“With the ongoing air-quality concerns from the Camp Fire, we have seen a high demand from people requesting N95 masks,” said Daniel Bowers, Director of Emergency Management for the City.
The City’s mask-distribution program is reaching its completion as the City has not been able to obtain additional masks from the California Office of Emergency Services and California Department of Public Health. The City’s request for more masks is routed through the County of Sacramento, and the County Public Health Officer released a statement earlier this week stating the use of the masks in Sacramento for the Camp Fire smoke is not recommended.
City of Sacramento fire station personnel will continue distributing masks to those who request them — and instructing the public on their usage — while supplies last. Both the City and County have recommended that the best method for protecting one’s health during the unhealthy air quality is to remain indoors and limit outdoor activity.
The City received its first installment of 7,000 N95 masks from the Sacramento County Medical and Health Operational Area Coordinator. It later obtained more masks directly from Cal OES. These masks are the same ones worn by firefighters, and they can help protect lungs from harmful particles in wildfire smoke, according to the California Department of Public Health.
In recent days, cities such as Roseville, Chico, Daly City and South San Francisco have launched mask distribution programs, as have Sutter and Yuba counties.
The Camp Fire in Butte County has burned 140,000 acres since it started Nov. 8. It has destroyed more than 8,700 homes and claimed 56 lives, making it the deadliest fire in California history. As of Nov. 15, it was approximately 40 percent contained.
Air quality in Sacramento related to fine particulate matter has been at “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy” levels for the past week, according to data from local air districts. The National Weather Service has said it expects increased winds on Saturday night may help with air quality in Sacramento.