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Creative places to find essential PPE. Comprehensive Guide to Securing Free N95 Masks and COVID-19 Tests from the Government And Other Local Resources

Creative Places to Get PPE

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In our ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to equip ourselves with the best protective gear and stay informed. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to secure free N95 masks and COVID-19 tests from the government, ensuring you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.

As a physical therapist assistant, I have had to get creative making sure I have what it takes to keep myself safe.  I figured that while I am at it I might as well share what I have learned so here is a list of 3 things and where to get them.  Here are some useful ways to use, not only government and local resources to get free stuff to fight Covid and other bugs.  When you block Covid, you are also blocking flu, and so many other infectious diseases.

Creative Places to Get PPE

Understanding the Importance

Before we delve into the process, it’s essential to understand why obtaining N95 masks and COVID-19 tests from the government is paramount. N95 masks offer superior filtration and protection against airborne particles, making them a vital tool in reducing virus transmission. Regular testing helps identify cases early, isolate infected individuals, and prevent further spread.


My friend Ester has been making really high-quality masks for people and they are constantly sold out.  Law firms small businesses and big businesses alike have been ordering masks with creative fabrics and designs as fast as she can keep up.  She made one to match my grey scrubs and it looks super professional.  Check out her facebook page Breathsafe, and if you are like me and want something with a little more protective power and less custom keep reading.



Me with my mask

Me with my custom matching mask for my uniform.

N95 and KN95 Masks

So, after supply caught up with demand, we all were able to switch over to the better filtration of N95 or KN95 masks.  I have had a fit test done twice and the N95 Mask does the best job of stopping air from getting past the filter of the mask.  The problem with the N95 for me is that I have a really big nose, so it hurts.  I have been using the KN95 mask for that reason unless I know my patient is positive for covid.  In that case I just suffer through the sore nose.

These are the next masks I have been buying from Amazon.  They are more comfortable, the black goes better with my outfit and they’re delivered right to my door.  The price isn’t bad either.  But next, my job got fancier, and I did the fit test.  That’s when I learned that N95 is the best.  I found these N95 masks with a better look and fit on Amazon.  Don’t forget to ask your employer if they have free masks too.  Maybe they have one that fits you comfortably and does the job.  A lot of jobs are also required to provide masks.

Hand Sanitizer

So, first I thought I would make my own hand sanitizer and then saw a report that people are getting it wrong too often and that it’s too dangerous.  Alcohol is still sold out anyways as of today when I checked but the stores now carry hand sanitizer made by brewing companies.  Our local brewery, Saint Arnold’s, here in Houston is making it, as are a lot of others.  They are also donating proceeds to a good cause if you go with Saint Arnold’s.  I’m not an affiliate, I just love the company.  Here is a list of other breweries making hand sanitizers, you can buy directly from their website.

Making your own scented hand sanitizer and saving money.

If you are like me, you love a scented hand sanitizer but don’t want to spend that much money.  Thanks to the power of bloggers like me, you can simply search, “How to make my own scented hand sanitizer” and end up with helpful videos like this one.

Disposable Gloves and Proper Hand Washing

I checked the stores in 2020 when I first posted this, but was still unable to find anything other than multiple-use latex gloves.  The problem with that is that the virus sticks just as well to the gloves as it does to the hands so you really need to be changing them often to do any good.  Amazon is the only place I can find them now and honestly, I think it’s probably safer just going with a lot of hand washing for mundane tasks that don’t involve high risk.  Otherwise, let us know where you find them other than Amazon in the comments section.  That’s just my opinion, but the value of hand washing can’t be overstated

How To Use Free Government Resources

Step 1: Visit the Official Government Website

To get started, head to the official government website dedicated to COVID-19 resources. You can find this site by conducting a simple online search or by visiting your local government’s website. Look for a section specifically addressing the distribution of N95 masks and COVID-19 tests.

Step 2: Check Eligibility Criteria

Before proceeding, make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for receiving free N95 masks and COVID-19 tests from the government. Eligibility may vary based on factors such as age, occupation, or location. Read the guidelines carefully to confirm your eligibility.

Step 3: Provide Necessary Information

Once you’ve established your eligibility, you’ll likely need to provide some personal information, such as your name, contact details, and proof of identity. This information is crucial for the government to verify your eligibility and distribute the resources efficiently.

Step 4: Locate Distribution Centers

Government programs often set up distribution centers where you can collect your free N95 masks and COVID-19 tests. Use the information provided on the website to find the nearest distribution center to your location. Note down the center’s address, operating hours, and contact details.  If you don’t know where to go, try calling 211, It’s the local resource phone number for so many things I can’t list them all here.

Step 5: Visit the Distribution Center

Now that you have all the necessary information, it’s time to visit the distribution center. Be sure to bring any required documents or identification to streamline the process. Follow safety protocols, including wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing, when you visit the center.

Step 6: Collect Your Resources

Once you arrive at the distribution center, present your information and eligibility documents. The staff will assist you in collecting your free N95 masks and COVID-19 tests. Ensure you take the recommended quantity to last for an adequate period.

Step 7: Stay Informed

Staying informed about COVID-19 updates and guidelines is essential. Visit the government website regularly for updates on mask distribution and testing procedures. Additionally, sign up for alerts or notifications to receive the latest information directly.


Securing free N95 masks and COVID-19 tests from the government, neighbors or other organizations is a crucial step in protecting yourself and your community from the virus. By following these steps and staying informed, you can ensure you have the necessary resources to stay safe during these challenging times.

Here are 11 FAQs on Personal Protective Equipment

1. What is Personal Protective Gear (PPE)?

Personal Protective Gear (PPE) consists of specialized equipment and clothing designed to protect individuals from exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. It includes items like masks, gloves, face shields, gowns, and goggles.

2. What type of mask should I wear for COVID-19 protection?

For COVID-19 protection, it’s recommended to wear a well-fitting, multi-layered mask such as an N95 respirator or a surgical mask. These provide effective filtration and minimize the risk of virus transmission.

3. How should I properly wear a mask?

Ensure your mask covers your nose and mouth completely, and it fits snugly against the sides of your face without gaps. Avoid touching the mask while wearing it and wash your hands before and after putting it on or removing it.

4. Do I need to wear gloves in public?

Gloves can be useful when handling potentially contaminated surfaces, but they are not necessary for routine activities. Frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is more effective in preventing infection.

5. Are face shields a suitable alternative to masks?

Face shields can provide additional protection but should be used in conjunction with a mask, not as a replacement. They are particularly beneficial in situations where eye protection is necessary, such as in healthcare settings.

6. How do I properly disinfect reusable PPE like masks and face shields?

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting reusable PPE. In general, cloth masks can be laundered, and face shields can be cleaned with soap and water or a disinfectant solution.

7. What is the importance of eye protection?

Eye protection, such as goggles or face shields, is essential in healthcare settings or when close contact with potentially infected individuals is likely. It prevents virus transmission through the eyes.

8. Should I wear PPE at home?

PPE is generally not required at home unless someone in your household is infected with COVID-19. In such cases, wearing masks and gloves when caring for the sick person and maintaining good hygiene practices are recommended.

9. Can I reuse disposable PPE?

Disposable PPE, like N95 masks, should not be reused unless specified by the manufacturer or healthcare guidelines. Reusing disposable PPE may compromise its effectiveness.

10. How can I ensure the safety of PPE I purchase online?

When buying PPE online, purchase from reputable sources and check for product certifications. Be cautious of counterfeit or substandard products. Read reviews and verify the seller’s credibility to ensure you receive genuine and effective protective gear.

Remember that using PPE is just one part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent COVID-19. It’s crucial to also practice physical distancing, maintain good hand hygiene, and follow local health guidelines to minimize the risk of infection.

11.  Whats the difference between an N95 and a KN95 mask?

The main difference between an N95 mask and a KN95 mask lies in their certification standards and the countries in which they are commonly used:

1. Certification Standards:

  • N95 Mask: N95 masks are certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. These masks undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet specific filtration and performance standards set by NIOSH.
  • KN95 Mask: KN95 masks are certified according to the Chinese national standard, GB2626-2006. This standard is regulated by the National Standardization Administration of China (SAC). KN95 masks are designed to meet Chinese filtration standards.

2. Filtration Efficiency:

Both N95 and KN95 masks are designed to provide a high level of filtration efficiency, typically filtering out at least 95% of airborne particles, including very small particles (0.3 microns in size) that may carry viruses. The “95” in both N95 and KN95 refers to the minimum filtration efficiency.

3. Fit and Design:

N95 and KN95 masks have a similar cup-shaped design and generally provide a tight facial seal when worn properly. This seal is essential to ensure that air is filtered through the mask and not leaking in from the sides.

4. Usage and Availability:

  • N95 masks: N95 masks are primarily used in the United States and are widely available in healthcare settings. They are regulated by NIOSH and are considered the standard for healthcare workers and other high-risk individuals.
  • KN95 masks: KN95 masks are commonly used in China and other countries. They have gained popularity worldwide, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s important to note that not all KN95 masks meet the same quality and performance standards, so it’s crucial to source them from reputable manufacturers.

5. Markings and Certification Information:

N95 masks typically have markings, such as “NIOSH” and a certification number, printed on the mask or its packaging. KN95 masks may have markings indicating their compliance with Chinese standards, but these markings can vary depending on the manufacturer.

6. Regulatory Differences:

N95 masks are subject to strict regulatory oversight by NIOSH in the United States, which ensures consistent quality and performance. KN95 masks, on the other hand, are subject to Chinese regulatory standards, which may not be as closely monitored internationally.

In summary, while both N95 and KN95 masks offer a high level of filtration efficiency, they differ in terms of certification standards and the regions where they are commonly used. It’s essential to ensure that any mask you purchase, whether N95 or KN95, comes from a reputable source and meets the relevant quality and safety standards.

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