Dayton to offer residents free face masks

Days after a face mask ordinance took effect in Dayton, the city is distributing free masks to residents to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

A pack of 10 masks is available to each household and may be picked up at Dayton fire stations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily until supplies run out, the city announced Monday. Proof of Dayton residency is requested.

“We know that it’s one of the best ways we have next to six feet of social distancing to keep the virus from increasing,” said Mayor Nan Whaley. “Since we have made it a requirement in many public spaces, we wanted to provide access to those that maybe can’t afford to have masks.”

The masks are disposable and not washable. They can, however, be used several times if stored in a cool, dry place when not in use, according to the city.

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Dayton city commissioners passed an emergency ordinance unanimously last week to require face coverings in most indoor locations, including retail stores and restaurants, and outdoor locations where social distancing is not possible. But the ordinance didn’t come without controversy from some critics who say the requirement is government overreach and an infringement on their rights.

Dayton, the first large Ohio city with a mask ordinance, has now been joined by Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus with either city legislation or an executive order that requires people to wear masks in public places.

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Dayton violators face an $85 penalty that if unpaid can lead to a block when renewing a drivers’ license and other consequences. City officials said the order will be complaint-driven, meaning that police will consider issuing fines if business owners or employees file complaints against visitors and customers.

Dayton recently received $8.2 million in Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds, part of which is supporting the mask distribution, according to the city.

“We don’t have a lot of tools against this disease,” Whaley said. “And masks are one of the best tools that we have.”

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Each of the ten Dayton fire house distribution points is starting with 2,000 masks, which may be supplemented if the need outstrips the supply, according to the city. The city also provided masks to businesses on Thursday when the ordinance took effect, Whaley said.

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority also started distributing a limited supply of free masks on Friday at Wright Stop Plaza. All customers and employees are required to follow the new rules, said Bob Ruzinsky, RTA’s deputy CEO, in a statement.

“RTA recognizes the importance of the city of Dayton’s new mask policy, and will implement the new mandate onboard our buses and within our facilities,” Ruzinsky said. “By working together we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and use best practices to safeguard the health of all those in our community.”

Masks can be picked up at these fire house locations:

- Station 2, 1009 E. Third St.

- Station 4, 300 N. Main St.

- Station 8, 2636 Stanley Ave.

- Station 10, 1234 S. Broadway St.

- Station 11, 145 Warren St.

- Station 12, 4236 Brandt Pike

- Station 13, 1723 W. Third St.

- Station 14, 2213 N. Main St.

- Station 15, 2801 Wayne Ave.

- Station 16, 4111 Kings Hwy.

- Station 17, 4118 W. Third St.

- Station 18, 207 S. Smithville Road

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