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Special delivery: Rochester to mail 480,000 masks, census info to residents

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Nearly 480,000 protective face masks will be mailed to Rochester households in the coming days in a public-private effort to reduce the risk of exposure of the novel coronavirus among city residents, Mayor Lovely Warren announced Friday.

Five masks will be mailed out to 96,000 homes starting next week. An additional 20,000 masks will be reserved to support public health efforts and the reopening of business and churches.

The masks are from the stockpile of 1 million non-medical masks Monroe County recently acquired through the federal CARES Act. The remainder will be distributed to county residents through town and village location previously announced.

“Protecting our residents is always my top priority. These masks will allow our residents to keep themselves safe, protect their circle and our entire community,” Warren said. “I urge everyone to continue to do the right thing and follow the guidance of our public health professionals. We can and will recover together from this crisis.”

To date, the virus has sickened 1,673 people in Monroe County and killed 139. Ninety people are currently hospitalized, including 16 patients who are on ventilators in intensive care units.

The mailings will also contain information on community resources available to help people through the health crisis, and reminders for city residents to complete the 2020 census. Much of the city’s outreach campaign to encourage residents to fill out their census forms was disrupted by the pandemic.

The city estimates the mailing will cost roughly $169,000, or about $1.75 per packet. Warren said Rochester-based firms Panther Graphics, Canfield & Tack, and Diversipack will partner with the city to package and expedite the mailing.

“Our community and government have truly come together during this crisis to serve people who are struggling,” Warren said. “However, we know that many people remain unaware of the help available to them. This mailing provides information on food assistance, financial help, mental health and other services. The pandemic has also stopped many people from focusing on the importance of the census to our city. We will deliver the message loud and clear that our residents need to step up and be counted.”

David Andreatta is CITY’s editor. He can be reached at dandreatta@rochester-citynews.com.