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Expect a Free Face Mask at the Grocery Store if You Live in This State

This state-run program makes mandatory mask-wearing a lot easier.

By now, more than 20 states across the U.S. require citizens to wear face masks or other face coverings in public as COVID-19 cases continue to spike. But at least one state is trying a different method to encourage the mass-wearing of face masks. In Utah, they're simply handing them out a grocery stores and other retail outlets for free.

If you live in The Beehive State, you can pick up a free mask at grocery stores as part of the "A Mask for Every Utahn" initiative. Right now, more than 140,000 masks are available at more than 225 grocery stores and pharmacies, hardware stores, convenience stores, and other stores, officials from the Governor's Office of Economic Development said in a release.

Utah initially launched the program to provide free masks for every resident in late April. Originally, the program asked citizens to sign up in an online form and have a mask mailed to their home. Since the campaign began, they've sent nearly 1.2 million masks to more than 270,000 households. Today, you can find the full list of participating stores handing out free face masks here.

For his part, Utah Governor Mark Hebert has refrained from announcing a universal mask-wearing mandate, and has instead asked citizens to make the decision for themselves. But as this "Mask for Every Utahn" initiative shows, the state intends to make that decision a lot easier.

It's an initiative that no doubt has the backing of health officials. The enormous quantity of available research shows that poorly ventilated and highly trafficked areas are among the most dangerous places to contract the coronavirus—and that includes grocery stores. Many national chains have required all staff members to wear masks, but most chains are only requiring shoppers to wear masks in those states that have mandated it. And if you're heading out on a grocery-shopping trip soon, make sure you know exactly what You Should Do If Other Shoppers Aren't Wearing Masks.

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