The City of New Bedford will offer free cloth face masks to any resident who wants or needs one. The masks are made by Joseph Abboud, the city-based designer menswear manufacturer.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said a series of drive-through events will be held in the coming weeks at New Bedford High School. Full information is available on the city's website.

The Southeastern Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross and Joseph Abboud Manufacturing partnered with the city to promote the widespread use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mitchell said.

Mitchell said by supplying enough masks for all residents, New Bedford is "doing something unique that few cities have been able to undertake."

"The scientific basis for widespread mask use is growing stronger, but in order for that knowledge to make a difference, we need to take individual and collective action," Mitchell said in a media release. "At an individual level, that means remembering to always wear a mask whenever you cannot practice social distancing."

Regional Red Cross executive Barbara Cotton noted the organization's long-standing public health mission. "Together we can help stop the spread of the COVID virus and protect our loved ones and neighbors,” she said.

“We are proud to continue to support New Bedford’s efforts to fight COVD-19,” said Joseph Abboud CEO Joe Bahena.

Joseph Abboud, based in the city’s north end, retooled its facility to produce masks early in the COVID-19 response and has continued to refine its operations to meet the city’s needs, Mitchell said.

The distribution times are as follows:

  • Ward 1             Saturday, May 30 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Ward 2             Sunday, May 31 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Ward 3             Saturday, June 6 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Ward 4             Sunday, June 7 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Ward 5             Saturday, June 13 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Ward 6             Sunday, June 14 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Additional dates may be announced based on available supplies. Residents are asked to limit their mask requests to those in their household and/or any elderly or vulnerable neighbors.

In late April the city announced the first phase of its mask effort, with a goal of delivering roughly 50,000 Abboud-made masks to first responders, essential workers, and vulnerable populations, including residents and staff of nursing homes, long-term care facilities, senior living facilities, shelters, and public housing facilities.

Masks are also being provided to staff and patients of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, the staff and clients of the Meals on Wheels program, and elderly clients of the Immigrants Assistance Center. To date, the City has distributed more than 20,000 masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the wearing of cloth face coverings in public where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for medical-grade masks, but provide more protection against the spread of viruses than not covering one’s face.

More information about the use and effectiveness of cloth face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.

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