Alameda County Distributes 7,500 Face Masks to Homeless

Some health care experts recommend the use of N95 respirator masks to help protect against wildfire smoke. Simple dust or surgical masks do not offer the same kind of protection, they warn. (Ana B. Ibarra/California Healthline)

As the California Camp Fire continues to burn, Alameda County health officials are taking action to support unsheltered residents. Alameda County Healthcare for the Homeless has distributed 7,500 N95 masks over the last two weeks, partnering with grassroots activist group Mask Oakland to deliver the masks to various encampments, as well as distributing them from their downtown office, 384 14th St., Oakland.
The county’s Public Health Department recommends that while air quality is in the “unhealthy” range—the Bay Area air has been”unhealthy” since the fire’s start date, Nov. 8—the safest option for people is to remain indoors, with windows and doors closed.
The County is urging unsheltered residents to utilize public indoor spaces, including libraries, senior centers, and other City facilities. St. Vincent de Paul, a year-round shelter located at 2272 San Pablo Ave, opened its doors during the day over the weekend as respite from the smoky air. To reserve a shelter bed at St. Vincent de Paul, call 510-638-7600.
San Francisco’s main library was able to expand its hours in order to provide a safe indoor space for the city’s unhoused. Oakland libraries, however, remain open at their regular hours. Library staff at Oakland’s main library said they are unable to expand hours as many of their staff have been pulled away to care for their children during school closures.
Euge Lee of Western Gravel and Roofing Supply donated 1,400 N95 masks—the N95 rating or higher are the only masks that will filter out the unhealthy particles in the air—to the
City of Alameda. Lee posted on Facebook that box quantities of masks were for sale at Western Gravel and Roofing Supply, and he would be giving away individual masks as needed in addition to his bulk donation.
A wildfire and respiratory health flyer is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic and Farsi at


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