Drive-thru mask giveaway Saturday in Easthampton

  • A banner set to be put up on Thursday in Easthampton advises people to cover their faces. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/14/2020 7:07:13 PM
Modified: 5/14/2020 7:07:03 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Americans have long used drive-thrus to conveniently do their banking and pick up their favorite fast foods. Now, Easthampton is preparing to use this model to distribute face masks to help halt the spread of COVID-19.

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, people can drive into the parking lot of 50 Payson Ave. and pick up a face mask at no charge. Those who want to avail themselves of the opportunity are asked to enter on Payson Avenue and exit on Williston Avenue.

Maggie Hebert, the chair of the city’s board of health, said that the idea for the drive-thru distribution came from Bri Eichstaedt, the city’s health agent.

“We just want to get these out as soon as possible,”  Eichstaedt said.

Other communities have used the drive-thru model to distribute masks, Eichstaedt noted. For Easthampton, the hope is that the drive-thru will relieve pressure on the city’s home delivery system for masks. 

“We’re getting a lot of requests for delivery,” Eichstaedt said. “We’ve given out 567 masks that have been donated so far.”

Although she originally delivered the masks herself, it’s now being done by the Easthampton Council on Aging and the Easthampton Neighbors. The city charges nothing for the masks.

Those who want a mask delivery can call 413-529-1400 or email health@easthamptonma.gov. Those who wish to donate masks can drop them off at the public safety building at 32 Payson Ave.

Saturday’s drive-thru distribution was made possible by the city’s purchase of 4,000 cloth masks from Mantis Graphics. 

Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order last week requiring people to wear masks or cloth face coverings when in public and unable to maintain social distance. The order also mandates that people wear masks or face coverings when inside retail businesses. Exceptions to the order include those with medical conditions and children younger than 2.

In addition to masks, bandanas and scarves can be used as face coverings.

Hebert said some people in the city have not been wearing masks properly, and that masks should cover both the nose and mouth, shouldn’t be touched on the front when worn, and shouldn’t be worn on the forehead or around the neck when not in use.

“The reason for wearing a mask is to protect the people around you,” Hebert said.

It’s possible to have COVID-19 and to have no symptoms, or for those symptoms to be mild.

Hebert said that while masks reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others, they are no substitute for social distancing, as transmission is still possible when two people are wearing masks.

“You still have to maintain the six feet,” Hebert said.

On Thursday, four large banners with the slogans “Stay in place. Maintain your space. Cover your face,” went up in town.

The banners are being displayed on College Highway in the vicinity of the Easthampton Animal Hospital, the rotary, in the vicinity of Captain Jack’s Roadside Shack on Northampton Street, and at the corner of East Street and Holyoke Street.

The banner effort has been spearheaded by Eichstaedt and City Councilor Owen Zaret. 

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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