Firefighters to distribute free masks

John Richmeier
Melonie Shigley, administrative assistant for the Leavenworth Fire Department, and Battalion Chief Bill McKeel prepare packages of masks for distribution. Members of the Leavenworth Fire Department will hand out free masks from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Haymarket Square.

Members of the Leavenworth Fire Department will be distributing free face coverings this weekend.

Firefighters will hand out the masks from 2-4 p.m. Saturday or until supplies run out. The distribution will take place at Haymarket Square, which is located at Seventh and Cherokee streets.

A total of 7,500 adult-size masks will be available for distribution as well as 5,000 youth-size masks.

Battalion Chief Bill McKeel said the Leavenworth Fire Department “got a really good deal” for the purchase of the masks.

Leavenworth Fire Chief Gary Birch said firefighters will be handing out the masks to heighten awareness for using face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the distribution may help people who are in need of masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

According to the CDC, masks “may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others” and “are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.”

Birch said people will be able to pick up the masks without having to leave their vehicles.

Drivers will enter Haymarket Square from Seventh Street and exit onto Cherokee Street.

Birch said firefighters are packaging the masks for distribution. Each package contains five masks and information from the CDC.

“When people drive through, we will give them a pack of five (masks),” Birch said.

He said people who have children also will receive a package of the smaller masks.

Gov. Laura Kelly has issued an executive order requiring people in Kansas to wear masks in public spaces. But the Leavenworth County Commission opted the county out of the order.

County officials still encourage people to wear masks in public, but it is not mandatory.

Leavenworth city commissioners have discussed instituting a mask requirement inside the city but have never voted on the measure.

Many area businesses require patrons to wear masks.

Visitors to the Leavenworth County Courthouse also are required to wear masks.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR