Jersey City Freeholder Bill O’Dea (D-2) is recommending that the Hudson County government purchase 500,000 face masks with the money they receive from the COVID-19 stimulus for $1 a piece and then distribute them to the community at large.
“I would like to suggest that the County immediately purchase a minimum of 500,000 surgical face masks – estimated cost $1 each to be made available to the public. They can be distributed through county and local agencies as well as non profits,” O’Dea wrote in an email to County Administrator Abe Antun yesterday.
” … We are a county with a large low income population who may not be able to easily access these masks and seniors may not have the ability to pick them up or go buy them as they shelter in place though they may need them in an emergency if they have to go out. OEM could work in putting a plan of distribution.”
Earlier this month, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced that Hudson County would receive about $9.3 million in the first round of COVID-19 stimulus funding, including almost $1.9 million for the county government.
In his response, Antun said that the masks could be available for people entering county buildings to conduct county business, though O’Dea said they should go a step further for populations that don’t have access or cannot afford PPE on their own.
O’Dea said this afternoon that if approved, the masks would be distributed for free.
A county spokesman did not return an email seeking comment.
Clarification: This story was updated to make it clear that the $1 purchasing cost would potentially be for the county, not the public.