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Community snaps up 4,000 free masks

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | August 7, 2020 1:09 AM

Giveaway also imparts information

COEUR d’ALENE — Tiffany Karlinsey was one of hundreds who drove through the mask giveaway Thursday at Lake City High School.

She made it clear she appreciated it.

“They’re kind of hard to find sometimes,” she said, smiling after Coeur d’Alene firefighter Zack Brawley handed her a bag that included five surgical masks.

A steady stream of vehicles rolled through the parking lot as people turned out for free masks as part of the “Wear a Mask” campaign to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Volunteers and others distributed more than 200 bags in the first 45 minutes of the scheduled three-hour event. The line grew longer as the day went on until all 4,000 masks were gone.

Those who turned out for the free masks ranged from teenagers to moms and dads and seniors.

Joshua Hoston with the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department was on hand to support what he called a “holistic effort” on a cool, cloudy morning.

He greeted arrivals with a smile and hello.

“It’s incumbent on us to help support the health of the community and the easiest way for us to do that is to help be forward in making everybody safe and helping with some education when we can,” he said.

Some cars had children, so Hoston handed out plastic, red firefighter helmets, too. He said there are misconceptions about what masks can and can’t do when it comes to COVID-19.

“This gives us an opportunity to talk to folks outside of calls before something happens and answer questions,” he said. “We’ve been helping answer questions and anytime we have that contact, we love it.”

Craig Etherton, Coeur d’Alene fire spokesman, said the masks given out were the disposal type and unlike cloth, not to be washed and used again.

But they will do the job of keeping people safe from the coronavirus and help the community meet Panhandle Health District’s mask mandate.

“So you can be sure to get where you need to go and do what you need to do,” he said.

Kootenai Health employees Tolli Willhite, Katrina Walker and Angela Gordon formed a line as they prepared bags, which also contained sunscreen, lip balm and fire department stickers and pencils.

They were glad to be there.

“It’s just something we can do to protect the health of the community and that’s the main focus,” Gordon said.

Brandi Stoker appreciated their efforts.

She was wearing a mask when she drove up in a white van with kids.

“It’s just so thoughtful,” she said. “It just saves me having to make more.”

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Tiffany Karlinsey drives up to the mask giveway on Thursday at Lake City High School, and is helped by Zack Brawley, center, and Joshua Hoston. (BILL BULEY/Press)

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Joshua Hoston with the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department hands plastic firefighter helmets to Brandi Stoker on Thursday. (BILL BULEY/Press)