COVID-19: Where to Buy Face Masks in San Francisco?

Face Mask San Francisco

Getty A boarded-up shop in the Haight Ashbury area of San Francisco, California.

On April 3, the CDC changed its recommendation on the use of face masks in the U.S. to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. In a press conference, President Trump said that because of new studies, the CDC now advises the use of “non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure.”

It recommends “that Americans wear a basic cloth or fabric mask that can be either purchased online or simply made at home, probably material that you’d have at home.” The CDC was very clear that it does not recommend that Americans buy or wear surgical grade or medical grade masks such as N95 masks, as these are critical for healthcare workers.

Here’s what you need to know about buying a face mask at a store in San Francisco:


There Are Many Stores That Typically Sell Face Masks, But May Frequently Be Out of Stock

Since there are frequent shortages of basic face masks in store, it might be difficult for many residents of San Francisco to find face masks. An alternative can be to make a mask at home using some common fabrics and materials.

For those who wish to try to buy a face mask, below is a list of most locations that supply face masks in regular times. Please note that these stores are frequently out of stock, so it’s preferable to verify with the store in advance.

Walgreens has two types of face masks, an earloop style and a cone style, that are not sold online but may be on the shelves in certain stores. CVS has two options as well, the procedural face mask and the 3M face mask. Walmart is another possibility, with a few different face mask options and some listed as in stock at the time of writing.

Some other stores to consider inquiring with are Ace Hardware and Cole Hardware, both of which are considered essential businesses and their locations have remained open throughout the outbreak.

Center Hardware may stock masks but they have not provided an updated inventory. Customers can call, email or text their orders and inquiries and the business is offering delivery or curbside pickup. Home Depot also typically stocks face masks but customers are urged to check with their Home Depot location as they are frequently out of stock.


Face Masks Are Not Currently Required in California, But They Are Recommended

Face coverings or face masks are not required in California, and the federal guideline is a recommendation, but California health officials have said that they could provide “some additional protection” against coronavirus.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of Health and Human Services in the state said: “Face coverings could provide some additional protection against COVID-19, but Californians should not have a false sense of security if they choose to wear them,” and reminded Californians to continue to practice social distancing and hand washing.

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