The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to buy and give away three million cloth face masks in the next 90 days.
Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis co-authored the motion as part of county efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"It's a proven strategy, along with (social) distancing ... and washing our hands and washing our hands and washing our hands," Kuehl said. "We want to eliminate any financial barriers people might face that would keep them from having a mask and using it."
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Kuehl cited a USC tracking poll that found more than 20% of county residents are concerned about running out of money in the next three months, while more than 10% worry that they will run out of food.
The priority will be getting masks to county residents who live and work in areas most impacted by COVID-19, and Kuehl and Solis both said they would like to source the masks locally.
Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai said the county is working with state officials, who she expects will either provide some funding or the masks themselves.
Solis echoed the importance of wearing a mask in public, which is now required by state law.
"Without a vaccine, the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face covering when outside and around others who are not members of your household," Solis said. "LA County recognizes that many families are financially struggling. For many, purchasing a face covering for all family members can be a hefty expense. With today's motion, LA County will ramp up efforts in ensuring our most vulnerable communities receive a cloth face mask so they can protect themselves, their communities, and family members from this highly contagious virus."