An innocuous-looking mailer that began showing up in Highland County mailboxes Tuesday could afford protection against contracting COVID-19 and possibly save a life, according to both the Ohio Depaprtment of Aging and the Ohio Department of Health.
While the debate continues over the effectiveness of facial coverings in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, the first of more than 10 million disposable face masks began arriving in the mailboxes of Ohioans age 65 and older Tuesday.
The program has been dubbed “The 10 Million Mask Mailer,” and is part of an effort by the state to make sure its older population is provided with what many feel is the first line of defense at protection from COVID-19 and stemming the spread of the virus.
The free-of-charge mask program has the goal of reaching more than two million Buckeye State senior citizens.
“The science is clear: Wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth helps protect you and those around you from COVID-19,” according to Ursel McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. “We are thankful for the fast work of our partners at the Department of Administrative Services to get these mailers into the hands of the most at-risk Ohioans in response to the current surge in cases.”
She said contracted teams then set to work on assembling mailer envelopes, which include five non-medical disposable masks and an enclosed flyer that outlines both the goals of the program and six preventative measures seniors should take to protect themselves.
Ohioans age 65 and older were identified through the departments’ Golden Buckeye program.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the enclosed masks were identified as being among the most effective types in protection from the virus in lieu of the state’s current vaccination program.
In his Tuesday press conference, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he hoped that the next phase of Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination program could be rolled out in two weeks.
Phase 1B is aimed primarily at vaccinating Ohioans 65 and older, and school teachers and staff in grades K-12.
Data from the Ohio Department of Health showed the demographic breakdowns and populations of those in the upcoming Phase 1B program:
Ages 65-74: 1,000,000
Ages 75-84: 580,000
Ages 85 and over: 220,000
Severe, congenital, development or early onset medical disorders: 77,000
K-12 teachers and staff: 334,000
Funding for the mask mailer program was provided to Ohio by the U.S. Department of Treasury under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.